Time and Again

SSC1711 2023-11-17

Track List

Backyard - 6:32
Unsung - 6:06
Time and Again - 4:46
Fearless Dreamer - 7:31
Foist - 7:04
Lift Off - 4:25
Kiss the Ring - 5:23
The Mask - 5:57


Loren Stillman - tenor saxophone
Drew Gress - bass
Mark Ferber - drums

One of the most difficult things to accomplish in music is making the complicated sound natural and easy. Saxophonist Loren Stillman continues to challenge himself in the arena of composition by writing pieces of music that sound freely played but adhere to an architecture, requiring the players to move forward within the piece as they deal with the fabric of the composition.

In pursuing these sounds, Stillman has enlisted a trio of trusted colleagues in bassist Drew Gress and drummer Mark Ferber to record Time and Again, an album of new pieces that move organically though they utilize written forms. This trio setting lent to a new sound that Stillman has been developing on the tenor saxophone, which he focuses on for the entirety of the recording.

Over the past two decades, Stillman has become one of jazz music’s leading alto saxophonists. But he has long felt that he was a tenor saxophonist playing the alto. So, when the pandemic reared its head, Stillman used the time to woodshed the larger horn, trying to extend his sound fluidity through his alto, soprano, and tenor without leaning into the sound cliches of any of the three.

The time also allowed Stillman to develop new repertoire that he heard in his head led by tenor voice. He began to write pieces for a trio of tenor, bass, and drums, as it was a conscious choice to eschew a chordal instrument so that Stillman had more freedom and room to fill the harmonic space.

For the recording, the saxophonist chose longtime friends and collaborators Gress and Ferber, with whom he had originally met in the Ralph Alessi Quartet and played with in countless musical situations. Stillman knew that the triumvirate would come together as a team providing a comfort zone for his ambitious music.

The music in question is in part inspired by the expressive yet studied music of his heroes, Lee Konitz, Warne Marsh, and Paul Motian. Their attention to the details of the musical form while freely expressing themselves sets their work apart from other “free” players. Stillman wanted to maintain that spirit by finding a way to play in a free manner while retaining the anchor of the songs, which proves to be one of the most difficult ways to improvise in jazz.

The trio met to play a handful of gigs before recording at David Stoller’s The Samurai Hotel Studio in Queens, New York in July 2022. The tracks were then expertly mixed and mastered by Joseph Branciforte at his Greyfade Studio.