Jerome Sabbagh: Five Influential Recordings

Saxophonist Jerome Sabbagh’s release with guitarist Greg Tuohey, No Filter, has been getting some serious airtime in Barn of late. Jerome and I recently shared an email exchange wherein I asked Jerome if he would be interested in sharing a few favorite records. Instead, and better yet, here we have five influential recordings, which I am very pleased to share. Enjoy.

John Scofield, Meant to Be (Blue Note, 1991): the second recording of the John Scofield Quartet with Joe Lovano and the first with Bill Stewart on drums. This band was a seminal band for me, ever since I saw them in Paris as a teenager. It made me want to explore the frontline of saxophone and guitar in my own music years later. I love Scofield’s writing on this and everyone’s playing is amazing. The recording has a live-in-the-studio feel and it sounds like a working band. It sounds as fresh and powerful today as when I first heard it. Incidentally this is one of the first albums in which I took note of the sound, because it sounded particularly good to me. It made me want to work with the engineer who recorded it, James Farber.

Cannonball Adderley, Somethin’ Else (Blue Note, 1958): a classic, perfect record that provides a counterpoint to the great Miles sessions of the same era, and a rare opportunity to hear Miles as a sideman, with Hank Jones and Art Blakey. The arrangement of “Autumn Leaves” is striking and moody. The way Miles plays the melody and Cannonball starts soloing left a big impression on me. I transcribed and played that arrangement as a teenager, as many aspiring jazz musicians did, I’m sure. Everyone sounds great.

Keith Jarrett, Standards Live (ECM, 1986): This recording might have been the first Keith Jarrett record I heard. It’s with the trio with Gary Peacock and Jack DeJohnette. It’s still one of the best to me. The intro to “Stella by Starlight” that starts the record is gorgeous. Some truly inspired playing.

Art Pepper, Friday Night at the Village Vanguard (Contemporary, 1977): This version of “Las Cuevas de Mario” happened to be one of the very first pieces of music I transcribed. There is something about later Art Pepper that always touched me, rough and raw as it is. As a then-alto player, I connected to his sound. There’s something very fragile, human and also fearless about his playing in these recordings. George Cables and George Mraz both sound great and of course, there’s Elvin Jones on drums. I wore out this record and only discovered more polished, younger Art Pepper, later.

Thelonious Monk, Monk’s Dream (Columbia, 1963): the first Monk album that I heard, with his classic ’60s quartet. I immediately fell in love with the sound of that band, and still love it. Charlie Rouse is a perfect fit for Monk, of course. The music is both intensely personal, but also swinging, happy, accessible, and universal. It still puts a smile on my face when I hear it and I never tire of it.

Here’s a taste of Jerome Sabbagh & Greg Tuohey’s No Filter, which was recorded direct-to-tape by James Farber and mastered by Bernie Grundman. Purchase the album here.