Tenor saxophonist Nate Lepine has been a regular fixture of the Chicago jazz, improvised music and rock scenes since the early 1990s. Known to date primarily for his work as a go-to sideman, he has appeared on over three dozen recordings by a wide range of artists including indie mainstays Cursive and Iron and Wine, and alt rock outfit Poi Dog Pondering. While ably lending his instrumental voice to these and many other popular projects, Lepine, whose true calling is jazz, has spent years cultivating his own music, building a repertoire of original compositions and performing frequently on the circuit of Chicago jazz clubs as an improviser. In the fall of 2014, the time had come to document the culmination of those efforts, and Lepine assembled a first-rate quartet to record ten of his compositions at Strobe Studio in Chicago. The result of that two day session is his long awaited debut album as a bandleader, Vortices.
The musicians Lepine chose to help him realize his vision – alto saxophonist Nick Mazzarella (Nick Mazzarella Trio), bassist Clark Sommers (Kurt Elling, BaSH) and drummer Quin Kirchner (Wilde Belle, NOMO) – were selected from the community of fiercely talented players that thrive in Chicago’s active jazz and improvised music scene. Each is a bandleader in his own right, and together they display uncommon versatility in their interpretation of Lepine’s eclectic originals. The quartet plays with a balance of virtuosity and soul all too rare in modern jazz, and Lepine has left plenty of room for each musician to contribute his personality to the material, while leading the way with his own distinctive, vocal-like tenor sound.
There is a diverse array of musical content throughout Vortices, from carefully crafted counterpoint, to bass-driven grooves and catchy horn riffs, to freely improvised passages. This variety reflects Lepine’s aesthetic, which is informed by his travels as a journeyman, his devotion to the art and craft of playing the saxophone, and a passion for the jazz idiom itself. Lepine brings to bear his many years of experience in the music industry on this first offering under his own name, and it is plain to hear the wait was worth it.
Chicago-based tenor saxophonist/ composer Nate Lepine has been a steady figure of the city's music scene since the early 90s
and is an important contributor to its active jazz community, leading groups who are the primary vehicles for his compositional output. Sideman with Nick Mazzarella, Quin Kirchner, and Herculaneum. Lepine has also recorded, performed and toured with Cursive and Iron & Wine....more