June 18, 1997


Great Circle Saxophone Quartet

Child King Dictator Fool (New World)

Dan Plonsey

Ivory Bill (Music and Arts)

WITH THESE two releases local saxophonist Dan Plonsey has stepped into the international arena and established himself as a voice to be reckoned with. The GCSQ disc finds Plonsey in the company of three equally gifted and similarly underacknowledged East Coast saxophonists: Chris Jonas, Randy McKean, and Steve Norton. The sax quartet is by now a well-explored grouping, and though the GCSQ hasn't redefined the medium, it has brought something fresh to the table. The chemistry between these four is inescapable as they make their way through a diverse set of compositions. With its delicate improvisational interplay and gut-wrenching solos, the group proves capable of everything from the comic to the sublime.

Ivory Bill finds Plonsey in the company of no one but himself, although this collection of pieces for up to eight saxophones is anything but your average solo saxophone record. From the thick blast of six baritone saxes on the opening "Titanis" to the gorgeous ballad composed for his wedding to the instantly hummable " But We Love You, Charlie Brown" to the bizarre tribute "Fulvous Whistling Duck," which alternates between four saxes and four (speaking) voices, Plonsey takes you on a trip through his weird and wonderful imagination. The textures are so varied and the ideas so abundant that at times it's easy to forget you're listening to a solo saxophone record. Though you might detect bits of Sun Ra and Anthony Braxton, or hear the imprint of rock and roll in Plonsey's giant power chords, what really shines through is something quite unique, something purely Plonsey. Great Circle Saxophone Quartet plays Sat/21, Radio Valencia, S.F. (415) 826-1199. Also Sun/22, Beanbender's, Berk. (415) 621-1967.

John Shiurba