When saxophonist Glenn Kostur first arrived in Albuquerque 11 years ago, coming in from Chicago to head up the Jazz Studies program at UNM, the thin air got to him. When he played, he’d find himself running out of gas about a measure and a half before he reached the end of his musical idea.
“Kind of like when conversing, you have a sense of how long your sentence is going to be, and you just know how much air to take in,” says Kostur, a big man with plenty of lung capacity. “It would be like literally running out of breath before finishing your sentence.”
Kostur no longer worries about running out of breath, as his latest CD, Trifling—his first recorded in Albuquerque as a leader—makes abundantly clear.
The man can blow.
Saturday night, Trifling—the CD’s eponymous trio featuring Kostur with bassist David Parlato and drummer John Bartlit—will mark the official release of the CD with a concert at the Albuquerque Museum, part of the Jazz/Blues under the Stars series, presented by the New Mexico Jazz Workshop.
Born in Salem, Ore., Kostur toured and recorded with trumpeter Maynard Ferguson for three years, serving as saxophonist, composer/arranger and musical director. Among his other recording credits are the Frank Mantooth Orchestra and the contemporary saxophone quartet Thrascher, which he helped found. He’s also worked with a pantheon of jazz stars, such as Dizzy Gillespie, Billy Eckstine, Al Hirt, Randy Brecker and James Moody.
On Trifling, Kostur, Parlato and Bartlit deftly and exuberantly explore the challenging dynamics of the saxophone trio. On the one hand, liberated from the harmonic policing imposed by a piano or guitar, the players can take greater freedom with a tune’s structure. On the other hand, without that harmonic touchstone, the players have to take complete responsibility for holding the tune together. There’s no one to reel them back if they venture near the edge of the map.
From the first time they played—an ad hoc trio pulled together for a one-shot deal a few years ago—the three found they had an excellent rapport, says Kostur. “I really liked [David’s] spirit,” he says. “He’s a really positive, open, peaceful kind of guy, which is not necessarily all that common in the jazz world. John’s another guy, too, who brings a whole ton of positive energy to everything.”
You can hear that rapport on Trifling, too—three top-drawer jazz musicians tuned into a common purpose and to each other.
“Surrounding myself with guys like that just made the whole thing really, really fun,” says Kostur.
Trifling, available at www.glennkostur.com, offers three quality Kostur originals and eight jazz standards, including compositions by Ornette Coleman, John Coltrane and Sam Rivers, among others. Many of the tunes will be featured at the concert.