David Borgo Initial Conditions

The sax-bass-drums trio is one of the most demanding combinations for improvised music, in part because it has been the vehicle of choice for such storied talent as Sonny Rollins, Wilbur Ware and Elvin Jones. Saxophonist David Borgo, on the faculty of the University of San Diego with pianist/composer Rick Helzer, whose compositions grace this ten-track live CD, is keenly aware of the large footprints that precede him. The Ornette-ish flavour of "Hiphocrisy” is fully savoured by Borgo, loose-limbed drummer Duncan Moore and rich-toned bassist Gunnar Biggs. On "Carla Pause,” the leader’s pliant soprano sax harkens back to Johnny Hodges’ balladry, although the overall arc is indebted to Steve Lacy’s abstractions. Borgo also plays an affecting Irish flute on the intro to "Illusions,” with reflective bass/drum accompaniment joining him when he jumps into the blowing section on tenor. The saxophonist does occasionally suffer from the saxophonist’s scourge: the let-my-fingers-do-the-walking playing that lacks a genuine target, the Coltrane-isms that should remain only in the practice room. But Borgo and his associates do acquit themselves admirably, with well-rehearsed tunes and committed blowing. And how many jazz CDs have been recorded by the digital sound processing wizard of Soundhack fame, Tom Erbe? (Circumvention)