An album that combines French romanticism, Baroque calculations, a tribute to the resident saxophonist at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. and a searing salute to John Coltrane? Only saxophonist Andrew White could conceive of such a thing.
Recorded last October at One Step Down, "Everybody Loves Sugar" is actually the third volume in a four-CD collection released by the fiercely independent Washington-based saxophonist, publisher and scholar. As the diversity of tunes suggests, White is in typically expressive form, imbuing the French pieces with a whimsical charm and rendering soulful interpretations of J.S. Bach's "Sinfonia" and Handel's "Sarabande."
As the show unfolds, though, White's buzzing tone cuts deep and wide despite an uneven sound mix. Tipping his hat to fellow reedman and First Saxophonist "Billy C," White unveils through his twisted (and harmonically twisting) Oval Office theme "361 Degree Experience" before extending the salute with a suggestive, blues-tinged sing-along version of "Everybody Loves the Sugar."
Still, White is at his best when he's paying homage to his spiritual mentor John Coltrane with an expansive, exultant multi-theme performance featuring pianist Allyn Johnson, bassist Steve Novosel and drummer T. Howard Curtis. Curtis is particularly effective on "E.J.'s Blues," prodding, pushing and ultimately propelling White's far-reaching harmonic flights. The album concludes with two renditions of "Andrew's Theme," providing further evidence of the saxophonist's seemingly inexhaustible spirit and stamina.
Appearing Monday at the Kennedy Center Terrace Theater with the Billy Taylor Trio.
* To hear a free Sound Bite from Andrew White, call Post-Haste at 202/334-9000 and press 8107. (Prince William residents, call 690-4110.)