Jerome Sabbagh Quartet
Photo: John Rogers
“Memorable tunes with assured performances […] Pogo sounds contemporary and vital, and the band delivers one of the year’s strongest ensemble performance.”
–Peter Margasak, Down Beat, 4 stars
The Jerome Sabbagh Quartet has been together since 2004 and plays modern, organic music that can appeal to listeners beyond the traditional jazz audience as well as regular jazz fans. Jerome Sabbagh seeks directness above all in his writing and likes his compositions to sound like actual songs. The quartet has recorded three critically acclaimed albums, North (Fresh Sound New Talent), Pogo (Sunnyside) and The Turn (Sunnyside).
In Ben Monder (guitar), Joe Martin (bass) and Ted Poor (drums), Jerome Sabbagh has found some of the most talented musicians of this generation and like-minded accomplices. Ben Monder plays “nearly unsurpassable jazz guitar” (Ben Ratliff, New York Times) and has performed with a variety of artists, including Lee Konitz, Paul Motian, Tim Berne and Jack McDuff. He has appeared in over 130 CDs as a sideman and has six as a leader. Known for his warm sound, facile ear, and harmonic flexibility, bassist Joe Martin has performed with a wide variety of artists, which includes Kurt Rosenwinkel, Chris Potter, Andy Bey, Mark Turner and Art Farmer. Ted Poor has an uncanny ability to shape the music and a refreshingly unique, organic approach to playing the drums. He has been increasingly in demand in today's jazz scene and plays with Kurt Rosenwinkel, Aaron Parks, Donny McCaslin, Cuong Vu and Chris Potter.
Sometimes when three busy musicians, all mutual admirers, take the next step and form a trio, new creative avenues open before them and the world of improvised music is richer for it. With Lean, an album but also a de facto band name, tenor saxophonist Jerome Sabbagh, electric bassist Simon Jermyn and drummer Allison Miller combine their formidable talents in a bristling set of original music. We hear their subtlety and breadth as players as well as their distinct compositional voices. Whether spontaneously creating, or drawing on and reinterpreting works from their own catalogues, Sabbagh-Jermyn-Miller arrive at a depth and beauty as a unit that defies easy categorization.
“I really enjoy the variety of what this band can do,” Sabbagh offers. “We go in and out of chords, grooves and textures but somehow it feels whole and connected. I think all three of us try to be in the moment and not prejudge or preconceive things. We trust each other enough to go on an adventure together. That’s what makes this band special to me and also enables us to play so many different kinds of material and still sound like a band.”
The Sabbagh/Tuohey Group is Jerome Sabbagh’s newest project, a quartet co-led with Greg Tuohey, a jazz guitarist also active in pop music, who currently plays with Aaron Parks. The repertoire focuses on original music by both band members. Greg Tuohey and Jerome Sabbagh have played music together for over 20 years and they are seeking to further develop their chemistry. The band is preparing a new recording.
Photo: Jean-Baptiste Millot
Jerome Sabbagh's newest project, is a trio with guitarist Ben Monder and drummer Daniel Humair. The music is a mix of compositions by Sabbagh and free improvisations. Sabbagh, Monder and Humair released I Will Follow You (Bee Jazz, 2010). Here is an excerpt of the liner notes of the album, written by David R. Adler:
On his well-received quartet albums North (2004) and Pogo (2007), the Paris-born, New York-based saxophonist Jerome Sabbagh put forward original music of great drive, assiduous craft and disarming warmth. And a centerpiece of these outings was his fluent, natural rapport with Ben Monder, one of the most sought-after guitarists of our day, a player of boundless versatility and imagination. I Will Follow You, a deft and highly spontaneous encounter with Geneva-born drummer Daniel Humair, brings the Sabbagh-Monder partnership to the next stage.
Humair, 72, was one of Europe’s first-call drummers at a particularly fruitful time in jazz history, and his experiences gigging with the likes of Bud Powell, Dexter Gordon and Eric Dolphy continue to inform his every step as an improviser (and painter, incidentally). In recent years he has made records with Tony Malaby, Ellery Eskelin and others on the leading edge of today’s creative music scene. One album in particular, Full Contact (Bee Jazz, 2008), with Humair, Malaby and pianist Joachim Kühn, caught the ear of Sabbagh. And as it happens, Humair had expressed admiration for Sabbagh’s 2008 Bee Jazz effort One Two Three — which highlighted the young saxophonist’s skill and personal touch with standards in a chordless trio setting. After a brief encounter and a gig with bassist Joe Martin in Paris, Humair and Sabbagh set plans in motion for I Will Follow You.
On this disc we hear three distinct personalities finding common ground, brainstorming a program of free improvisations as well as compositions by Sabbagh. “There was no rehearsal,” Sabbagh says. “The pieces I wrote, with one exception, have no chords after the heads, and they don’t require time or even want time. A lot of the takes ended up very short, and yet we didn’t talk about length beforehand at all. We all shared a sense of, ‘Don’t do too much, don’t linger, don’t spoil it.’”
[…] Whether free or notated, brand new or reaching back to the dawn of modern jazz, the sounds of I Will Follow You evoke a sense of connection, a way of working that stresses both individuality and partnership. “I like a situation where whatever I’m doing, I’m inspired to give it my all,” Sabbagh says. “I want it to be something clear in its intent. There’s a feeling of commitment on this record that I like. It’s something I look for in music in general, and certainly something I try to cultivate in my own.”
David R. Adler
New York, June 2010
Jerome Sabbagh often performs in a trio, as on One Two Three, with a variety of bass players and drummers including Joe Martin, Vicente Archer, Ben Street, Rodney Green, Billy Drummond, Bill Stewart and Justin Brown. He also had an ongoing duet project with Danny Grissett.