REVIEW: Robert MacGregor – Refraction of Light

I don’t envy a serious young musician who is trying to put together his debut album. I’d think it would be a scary prospect, but if he has a musical vision and some talented pros to help him realize it, then he can give himself his very best chance to generate something memorable.

Tenor saxophonist Robert MacGregor is certainly young, but the music on his album, Refraction Of Light, due out later this summer on the Black-Tri label, is startling in it’s maturity. Every piece was written by MacGregor and he shows his versatility with a number of different styles, in both the compositions and his instrumentality. And although he is the focus, to his added credit he provides plenty of opportunity for his sidemen to shine individually. Those sidemen are a solid, talented group that includes Miro Sprague on piano, drummer Will Clark, and Perry Wortman on bass.

Although MacGregor is new to the established jazz world, he is being noticed. Steve Slagle, a respected veteran of the Stryker/Slagle Band who has also played with Joe Lovano and the Mingus Big Band, says of MacGregor, “One of the very few good young saxophonists developing his own sound…the debut recording, Refraction of Light, is highly recommended”.

MacGregor has also caught the notice of Chris Rosenberg of Ornette Coleman’s Prime Time, who says of him, “…the compositions are imaginative, the performances are strong…Robert’s first release is a work of integrity”.

The very first cut, “The Fuse”, ignites the whole album (groan — sorry, couldn’t resist) with a lively and infectious spirit that had me hooked. “Crimson Corridor” follows with a softer, more subdued mood that is still very enjoyable. Even on the slower pieces, such as the moody “Zizhuyuan in the Summer”, there’s a lot to like.

I enjoyed most of the tunes on this album, with my favorites probably the driving “R.S.V.P.” and the softly melodic “Senbo’s Dreamwalk”, which closes the album. A nice mix of tunes and a nice debut album. I’m looking forward to more from Robert MacGregor.

Robert MacGregor – Refraction of Light – Black Tri Records.

1 The Fuse 5:55
2 Crimson Corridor 7:11
3 Local Transfer 5:58
4 Zizhuyuan In The Summer 7:31
5 Event’s Horizon 5:36
6 Refraction of Light 5:33
7 Path Less Traveled 4:25
8 R.S.V.P. 6:17
9 Senbo’s Dreamwalk 7:53

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