The baritone sax takes a lot of air to play. This instrument, known for its strength, is not easy to play with sweetness. But in the hands of master Andrew Hadro, the bari shows its soulful side, producing sweet melodies and sounding effortless in quick passages. Andrew Hadro does just that on his new album, “For Us, The Living”. Released April 1 in celebration of the 150th anniversary of the Gettysburg address, the album features all living American composers. With pieces written by Hadro, Julian Shore, Ryan Anselmi and James Davis, the music ranges from soft and introspective to a quickly moving roar.
Track one, eponymous to the album, makes a star of Carmen Staaf on the grand piano. She carries the movement of the song well, giving the feeling of walking as the background scrolls by. “Give”, and “Cotton”, both by Julian Shore, feature easy, memorable melodies in the bari sax while the rest of the trio sets up a soft, dreamy atmosphere. The ensemble occasionally drifts off during “Give”, excluding the listener, but soon returns to keep the piece grounded. Cotton's easy melody picks the listener up at the beginning and doesn't leave until it drops you gently on the pillow and wishes you goodnight.
Track six, “Paola” by Hadro himself shows the ensemble's chemistry. Daniel Foose sets up a relaxed atmosphere with a bass vamp, with Carmen Staaf joining, relaxed and cool as ever on the piano. Hadro continues to show his mastery of the bari's softer side. It sounds like he's not even trying as he jumps all over the range of the instrument.In “Forever, All Ways”, written by James Davis, Hadro shows off his incredible emotional range, opening with an easy flute solo, and progressing to moments of pure power on the sax. Later he brings brings back the flute with an almost savage quality. Hadro is clearly not just a master of his chosen instruments, but of his art.