There have only been a handful of significant bassoon players in jazz history, and certainly the bassoon is not the first instrument that one would think of as an improvising instrument. However in his career, Michael Rabinowitz has proven that the instrument can be played with the fluidity and creativity of a saxophone. Along the way he has worked with Ira Sullivan (with whom he made his first record in 1981), the Mingus Big Band, the Charles Mingus Orchestra, Dave Douglas, Red Rodney, Anthony Braxton, Joe Lovano, Chris Potter, Ryan Truesdell and Wynton Marsalis among others.

Next Chapter is Michael Rabinowitz’s seventh release as a leader. He is showcased with his regular quartet which includes pianist Matt King, bassist Andy McKee, and drummer Tommy Campbell on a set of original music. Rabinowitz wrote six of the eight selections while King contributed the other two.

While listening to the music on Next Chapter, one quickly forgets about the uniqueness of hearing a jazz bassoonist, and instead listeners will be impressed by the quality of the music and the improvisations. Along the way one hears  such colorful numbers as “Lydian Dream” (which evolves from a dreamy ballad to a swinging piece), the episodic “Minor Blues Experiment” (which shits its groove three times in each chorus), the slyly witty blues “”MRab,” a contrafact on “Emily” (renamed “Emily Alt Line”), “One Four All” (based on “Four”) and a Charles Mingus-flavored “Tuesday Blues.”

Next Chapter serves as evidence that, in the right hands, any instrument can be used as a creative lead voice and soloist in jazz, even the bassoon.

Scott Yanow, jazz journalist/historian