Sixteen Sunsets, the title of the latest album from soprano saxophonist extraordinaire Jane Ira Bloom, takes its title from astronaut Joseph Allen’s description of the different brilliant colors of the sunsets on view while in orbit in space. As quoted in the liner notes, Allen says “You see at least eight bands of color come and go, from a brilliant red to the brightest and deepest blue. And you see sixteen sunrises and sixteen sunsets every day you’re in space. No sunrise or sunset is ever the same.” What better metaphor for the brilliant variety of tones and colors that define the work of a fine jazz ensemble? What better way to characterize the music Jane Ira Bloom and her quartet?
Working on a somewhat unusual program filled entirely with ballads, Bloom and company, (Dominic Fallacaro on piano, Cameron Brown on bass, and Matt Wilson on drums) flesh out the full palate of colors brilliant, bright and deep. The album’s 14 tracks include nine classic tunes and six original compositions—one track is a medley of an original, “Gershwin’s Skyline,” and the Gershwin aria “I Loves You Porgy.” It is a repertoire that gives Bloom a real opportunity to tap into the intimacies latent in her instrument, yet so often ignored. Her lyrical artistry is a revelation.
She takes standards like “For All We Know,” “Darn That Dream,” “But Not For Me,” and “The Way You Look Tonight,” songs that have become so much a part of our musical psyche, that for some they might seem stale, and breathes life into them. As each sunset is both a repetition and a revelation, so too are these songs. You’ve heard them before, but not quite the way you’re hearing them now. Whether the stripped down version of Kurt Weill’s “My Ship” or the otherworldly “Out of This World,” this is the work of a true artist.
The original pieces include the elegant “Ice Dancing (for Torvil & Dean)” the rhythmically playful “Primary Colors,” and the densely evocative “Bird Experiencing Light,” with all the implications suggested by the title. This last makes for a fitting conclusion to a fine jazz album.
While I have only heard the stereo CD of Sixteen Sunsets from Outline Records, it should be noted the album has also been released in 5.1 high resolution surround sound on Pure Audio Blu-ray. This disc has been nominated for a 2014 GRAMMY as Best Surround Sound Album.