By Craig W. Hurst
In the parlance of some, “The Bigs” refers to making the big leagues or the big time. With his newest release on the Naxos Jazz label, Bigs, David Sills demonstrates he is neither a small time composer nor a minor league jazz saxophonist. Of the ten excellently performed cuts on the CD, three are originals by Sills. Also making compositional contributions are sidemen, pianist Alan Broadbent, and guitarist Larry Koonse. All ten compositions are performed at a very high level of artistry and musicianship that definitely makes time listening to this recording, time well spent.
The title cut Bigs that opens the CD is a moderate tempo tune that has the group swinging hard along with a vamp played by the bass. Sills’ saxophone tone is similar to the husky, full-bodied tenor sound of Joe Lovano, and while Sills’ improvisations are also along the same sort of angular lines that one hears in the work of many fine bop oriented players, this listener definitely hears sounds similar to those of Joe Henderson. Guitarist Koonse and pianist Broadbent also contribute fine solos.
Shark-eez the second tune on the CD is another Sills original. The angular line and occasional accented punctuations in the melody make this tune reminiscent of a Thelonious Monk composition. Again Sills, and Koonse demonstrate their improvisational prowess, while bassist Derek Oles and drummer Joe La Barbera also take their respective turns in this up-tempo romp.