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Several things set Words Project IV apart from the other three albums in Sam Sadigursky’s Words Project series: it is entirely acoustic and Sadigursky restricts himself to only playing saxophones and clarinet. Most importantly, instead of using a cast of singers as on previous recordings, he solely features vocalist Christine Correa.
There are cheerful and contemplative art songs on this record in equal measure. “Speak, sir, and be wise” says Carl Sandberg’s quatrain Basket, Christine Correa’s voice as careful as the poem in a song that encapsulates Sadigursky’s phraseology. Pared down piano and drums lead us into Runaway, an edgy song of exploration. The Bestiary Suitereminds one of Pictures at An Exhibition as it musically mimics the movements and thoughts of personified animals. The piano in Nothing helps the vocal gain confidence and as it does so, the other instruments lend force to the argument: “If we the flesh…come to an end, why not they as well?”. What Do Women Want is a surprisingly quirky song, lots of foley-like noises remind you of street sounds, while the fragile vocal thinks about her wishes: “I want to walk like I’m the only/ woman on earth and I can have my pick.” A memorable, pensive piano motif leads us seamlessly into Fear, where the shudders of the lyric pass from instrument to instrument. The melody of Make the pie higher! is written over the chord changes to Cole Porter’s ‘What Is This Thing Called Love’. Unravelling counterpoint conjures up an audience listening incredulously to whatever mangled phrase Dubya came up with during his presidency. Snatch of Sliphorn Jazz is an upbeat song with a twist: “It’s the doubled-up doggone happy people…they do bust hard”. The band members sing Bertold Brecht’s Motto together as if to convince themselves “there will be singing” in the dark times. An uplifting Simple Love Song “that limns the years” concludes the album. The softly rumbling cymbal, the rippling piano, the lilting vocal all confirm: “this is the love that makes it right.”
Sam Sadigursky comes away unscathed from an impressive, mature, and “vulnerable” acoustic Words Project IV. He successfully matches phrases from the page with adventurous and lyrical music. Sadigursky’s creative force has surely progressed and evolved, and this year we will get to hear how much he has been up to in the years since we last heard from him.