Friday night at Baby’s All Right always seems to be a surefire way to sail into the weekend, and when Colin Stetson booked a night there, fresh off the release of his latest LP, All This I Do For Glory, I knew I had to drop everything to see his unique talent on full display.
While the main event was at the forefront of my mind, I also found myself completely impressed and entirely bowled over by opening act, Justin Walter. Walter, who also just released an album called Unseen Forces, brought with him one of the most entrancing instruments I’ve seen in a long time, called an Electronic Valve Instrument, which is a very rare wind-controlled synthesizer. Carefully and meticulously blowing into this instrument, at varying speeds and intensities produced the most engulfing and gripping sounds. The entire audience was silent and watched him in total amazement. I have a sneaking suspicious they were affected similarly how I was. I found myself taking a total mental journey during his set – running through lush fields and tall grasses in the savannahs, drifting off into space into far away galaxies. It almost felt like I was hallucinating during his set while completely sober. It was one of the most arresting things I’d ever heard and I’m simply shocked I hadn’t heard of his music before this night.
Just as spellbinding, Colin Stetson wasted no time launching into his set with the single off his latest release, “Spindrift.” Once again the room fell silent as we watched Stetson masterfully wield the soprano saxophone, bending it to his will. Using his often-lauded circular breathing techniques, the six and a half minute opus left me slack jawed in appreciation for his dedication to his craft. Watching Stetson play, muscles straining with exertion, his gently rhythmic rocking back and forth which almost seemed to help him completely delve into the soul of the music, is something that I don’t believe I will ever tire of witnessing. The various microphones strategically placed in and around the instrument added a layer of percussion and atmosphere to the song, and Stetson would howl or bark through his instrument with the aid of an additional microphone strapped around his throat.
The guttural nature of his vocalizations was on full display on “All this I do for glory.” The chest-rumbling nature of Stetson’s howling through the bass saxophone is really something to experience. The duality of the music was also evident, from the inherent struggle and opposition, to the dedication and perseverance. In Stetson’s own words, the album offers “a reasoning and exploration of the machinations of ambition and legacy, an examination of the concepts of afterlife, and the first half of a doomed love story in the model of the Greek tragedies.”
In between songs, he also found time to mention that there is an upcoming second part to his latest release that is already written and is ready to be recorded. After a round of deafening applause, Stetson deftly launched into one of those unreleased tracks, delivering it with as much fervor and intensity as each song preceding it. With each subsequent release, Colin Stetson manages to up the ante, and change the landscape of what people perceive a modern sax player should be. I eagerly await his next move.
Article: Lesley Keller