Exposé Online banner

Urban Sax — Inside
(Urban Noisy, 2014, CD+DVD+LP)

by Peter Thelen, Published 2014-04-04

Inside Cover artThe saxophone is most often associated with jazz, a lead instrument that’s strong on melody and a potent vehicle for improvisation. Urban Sax puts all those ideas to bed. For those unfamiliar, Urban Sax is the creative outlet of composer Gilbert Artman, who started the group back in the mid-70s, and composes and arranges all of the group’s material. The “group” in this case is over 75 performers, consisting mostly of saxophones (the entire family from sopranino to bass), but also including clarinet, trumpet, cellos, vibraphone, glockenspiel, xylophone, gongs, electric bass, contrabass, electric guitar, harmonium, sitar, tamboura, an eight voice choir, and numerous dancers. Their compositions and arrangements use a more soft and orchestral approach, highly melodic and complex, with numerous interlocking saxophone parts playing over a sort-of floating textural backdrop of saxes and other instruments, punctuated by the percussion and intermittent appearances by the wordless choir. Their live performances utilize multiple stages some distance apart, typically in an urban setting with the architecture providing natural reverb and delay. Those familiar with the last full length album To the Happy Few from over two decades ago, and Spiral a few years before that, as well as the EP Urban Sax a Jakarta from 1995 should have a good idea of what to expect from Inside. The style is much the same, though growing increasingly complex and elaborate. The CD consists of eleven tracks, and the included LP mirrors the material on the CD. The DVD also features the same eleven titles, although they may be from a different performance, or at the very least an alternate mix – but with a highly creative juxtaposition of still shots, live video (often heavily effected) and animation, sometimes all superimposed; it is an amazing work of art unto itself. In addition, an extra 18 minute animated feature, “Urban Sax Virtual,” is included on the DVD. Everything is packaged in an LP sized cover with a 32 page full color booklet. It’s a numbered limited edition, and as one might guess, it doesn’t come without some financial sacrifice, but once you watch that DVD you will probably agree with me that it’s worth every penny.

Filed under: New releases, 2014 releases

Related artist(s): Urban Sax

Latest news

2019-03-20
Freedom to Spend Unearths June Chikuma's Archives – Jun (June) Chikuma is well known for her video game and anime soundtracks, but she also released an album of experimental electronic music back in 1986 called Divertimento where she indulged the kind of spontaneity that wouldn't work in a soundtrack. RVNG Int'l label Freedom to Spend is bringing this overlooked item to broader attention with a deluxe reissue. » Read more

2019-03-03
Seaprog 2019 Lineup Almost Complete – The Seaprog festival in Seattle is scheduled for June 7-9 this year, and they've announced their lineup of performers. The revitalized Trettioåriga Kriget will cap Friday night, perennial favorites Marbin are on Saturday, and District 97 will finish off the fest on Sunday night. In support, they've booked a stellar variety of artists from the Northwest and around the world, including EchoTest, Markus Reuter and Trey Gunn, and the live debut of the amazing Troot project. » Read more

2019-02-21
You Can Be Part of an Ambient Electronic Project – The Gesture of History is a new electronic project put together by Sam Rosenthal of Black Tape for a Blue Girl, Steve Roach, and violist Sam Shadow. The music started as an instrumental track Rosenthal was working on for a Black Tape album, but took on a life of its own and demanded further enhancements. The majority of the funds raised will go to manufacturing costs for LP and CD editions, as well as other items as detailed on the Kickstarter page. » Read more

2019-01-31
Keyboardist Ingo Bischof R.I.P. – Keyboard player Ingo Bischof, best known as the longtime keyboard player of German band Kraan, passed away on January 29th, 2019. Bischof was born January 2, 1951 in Berlin-Kreuzberg and joined Kraan in 1975. » Read more

2019-01-11
Jazz Composer Mark Lomax, II Releases Epic 12CD Set – In addition to being a fine jazz drummer, Dr. Mark Lomax, II is a composer in residence at Ohio State University, where he has been very busy on the compositional front. The year 2019 is the 400th anniversary of the arrival of the first ship bringing African slaves to North America, and in commemoration of this, Lomax has produced 400: An Afrikan Epic, a 12 volume set of CDs featuring a variety of different musical ensembles. » Read more


Previously in Exposé...

Everon - Paradoxes – Getting me to review an SI release is somewhat analogous to trying to get Rolling Stone to review a Zamla Mammaz Manna album. Both would have their fair share of negative comments. I am really...  (1994) » Read more



Listen & discover



Print issues