hear the word, “Pollyanna,” one might think of a character from a
children’s book or someone with an optimistic personality. But in the
hands of saxophonist Jürgen Hagenlocher, it becomes something quite
Hagenlocher plays the tenor on Leap in the Dark (Intuition Records,
2012). His supporting cast is comprised of trumpeter Alex Sipiagin,
pianist David Kikoski, bassist Boris Kozlov and drummer Nate Smith. The
group comes together for eight original songs that add up to more than an
hour’s worth of musical enjoyment.
Kikoski plays the electric piano on “Pollyanna,” a delightful introduction
to the set. Tenor and trumpet unite on the melody. The free-spirited mood
makes this one of the better pieces on an excellent recording. Highlights
include Kikoski’s middle solo. While fresh, it conjures memories of some
early Bob James and perhaps a bit of Eumir Deodato. Smith stretches out
during the sequence that sets up the closing phrase.
“Corruptionists” begins with an intense workout by Smith. After about a
minute and a half, the virtuoso shifts into the song’s rhythm. The whole
ensemble is engaged, with significant contributions from bass and acoustic
piano. But it’s the leads of Hagenlocher and Sipiagin that carry the
Hagenlocher was born in 1967 in Friedrichshafen, Germany. He began playing
saxophone at the age of 17, and four years later he won a youth
competition in his hometown. Since then, he has performed with the
Baden-Wurttemberg’s State Youth Orchestra, studied at the Swiss-Jazz
School and at festivals in Bern, Montreux and Cully. As a sideman, he’s
recorded with such artists as Peter Graves, Bob Mintzer and David Friesen.
Leap in the Dark is his third recording as a leader.