Nat Birchall: Sacred Dimension – review


Saxophonist Nat Birchall is a John Coltrane admirer whose quicker pieces tend to sound like Coltrane's famous account of My Favourite Things, and his ballads like the sax-guru's haunting tone poem Naima. Ancient World, the opening track of Sacred Dimension, has the My Favourite Things feel, with the leader's bittersweet soprano sax twisting over the thundering Elvin Jones-inspired drumming of Andy Hay and the rolling piano chords of Adam Fairhall. The poignant title track has a bird-call quality to the simple, two-note rising motif at the centre of its theme, and Birchall on tenor sax comes very close to Coltrane's majestic stillness over Hay's rumbling tom-toms. Some of the music has an exuberant, dancelike quality more evocative of pianist McCoy Tyner's music of the 1970s, which gives this album a more upbeat air. But upbeat or meditative, Birchall gets Coltrane's spiritual message at a deeper level than many among the multitudes to have pursued it.


John Fordham

The GuardianTramp

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