Jazz,Music,Review,Sammy Stein

Album Review – “Satya”. Words: Sammy Stein

Satya ( Resonant Artists  2022)

Satya comprises Phil Raskin on percussion and Frank Doblekar on saxophone. They are joined on the eponymous album ‘Satya‘ for two tracks by Ratzo Harris on bass.

Raskin has been a professional musician since his teenage years in Cleveland, Ohio, and his four-decade-plus career has taken him across the world. Raskin was mentored by the legendary guitarist Bill DeArango and became a member of The Smiling Dog Saloon’s band, performing at Cleveland’s jazz Mecca with some of the best musicians in the world, including Joe Lovano, Billy Drewes, Skip Hadden, Kenny Werner, Stan Getz, Pharoah Sanders, Gary Burton, and Weather Report. Some of these would become later collaborators.

Raskin attended Berklee after studying with composer HalimEl-Dabh at the center for PanAfrican Studies at Kent State University. He received a Berklee scholarship and, while there, collaborated with Boston scene musicians, including Mike Gibbs, George Garzone, Rebecca Paris, Bob Mover, Wallace Rooney, and Wayne Krantz, among many others.

His music includes many influences from around the world,and he continues to expand his musical palette.

Cleveland native Frank Doblekars musical career has also spanned over four decades. Doblekar began his life-long musical collaboration with friend Joe Lovano while they were both teenagers. Passionate in his love for jazz and world-influenced improvisational music, he worked extensively with Grammy awardwinning producer Malcolm Cecil and performed regularly with Bill DeArango, Bill Dobbins, HalimEl Dabh, Ramnad V. Raghavan, Roswell Rudd, and toured Europe with Donald Ayler. Doblekar was the first call for many artists, including Tony Bennett, Steve Allen, Aretha Franklin, Gladys Knight, Liberace, Tom Jones, Sammy Davis Jr., and Jerry Lewis.

Ratzo Harris is a musician and writer hailing from Indianapolis, Indiana. He gained a masters from Rutgers University in Newark, New Jersey. In a career spanning over four decades, Harris has played with Mose Allison, Bruce Arnold , Joe Lovano, Judi Silvano, Dave Haskell,  and Tony Moreno, to name just a few.

Satya is a musical message of love and peaceful vibrations, exploring a way of playing together and communicating in a harmonious, truthful expression of sound and ideas. The musicians share mutual love and respect for the spirituality in the music.  

Charlie Haden’s ‘Song for Che‘ opens the album and is a mystical, atmospheric number, with a sax solo for the first quarter before the percussion gently eases in, tentatively, then with everincreasing sound as the saxophone develops the emotive melody lines. While the sax maintains the lead, the percussive elements create complex and altercating patterns, emphasizing the melody’s gorgeous lines.

Ayler’s ‘Spirits’ is admirably executed with restraint and a concentration on the melodic form which Ayler so dexterously hid behind a wrath of mystical extrudes. Here, the beauty and simplicity of the notation are heard and felt. The percussive element finds the spaces and the timing to serve a faithful and free accompaniment, redolent of the free-wheeling style of the original—a glorious combination of styles.

‘You Started It’ opens with the saxophone creating beautiful, atmospheric echoes using linked melodic riffs. The percussion provides a solid platform of sound that rolls into and onto itself, forming a wave-like sense of undulative support.

‘Where He Leads Me’ is a balladic song of sound with drums underpinning a simple yet effective melodic top line. The percussion’s complexity emphasizes the saxophone’s melody, creating a track that speaks profoundly to the listener.

‘ Blessed Quietness’ is gentle and mesmeric and features such soft percussion it might be a whisper behind the sweetness of the saxophone lines; the gradual diminuendo is subtle and beautiful.

Ghosts’ is quietly energetic, the full force of the beautifully placed notes of the melody, which Ayler had a knack for, conveyed in the intuitive and respectful playing style of Doblekar. Dipping, rising, and soaring, the sax travels across octaves at ease with the flying nature of the melody. Simply beautiful, especially when the notes are subtly flattened in the second third. The percussion comes to the fore on this track in many places, creating a true duality between the two musicians

‘Incantation’ is wonderfully atmospheric, the saxophone sighing and soaring across the melody into near silence, into which the percussion edges with varied sounds but always allowing the saxophone to carry its voice—a stunning track.

Sonetto 1′ feels like a gentle, slow dance, with sax playing melody over tricky percussive rhythms, which add texture and intrigue to the sound, while ‘Sonetto 2′ is spacey, atmospheric,and an example of the conversational nature of the musicians, as the percussion slips into the spaces with intuitive dexterity.The rich tones of the sax as it dips low and then rises are a delight.

Sonetto 3′ is a continuation of the interaction between the two musicians and is another atmospheric track, building from a gentle start to a series of repeated phrases under and into which the percussive elements are woven.

The two final numbers come under the ‘Suite Requiem for Ukraine.’ ‘Sadness’ features the bass of Ratzo Harris bass adding deep, sonorous undertones over which the sax and percussion add texture and energy. The middle third is a thing of beauty with the sax crying, then softly singing as if to itself, the percussion adding whistles which fade, like birdsong, before the sax too fades. ‘Angels’ is delivered with panache and is like a meditation in sound. The sax travels the registers and is, at times, just glorious. The percussion solos make outstanding interludes, and after the second one, the saxophone switches time pattern and emphasis, adding to the interest of the music. The heavy, dynamic improvisational essence of this number verges on the exquisite.

As Joe Lovano said of this recording, “‘Satya has a oneness about it that is a heartfelt Prayer of Truth, Understanding, Trust, and State of Being.  Let this offering transport you to a beautiful state of being all your own, as it did for me.  Joe Lovano

Proceeds from the downloads go to support World Central Kitchen WCK@WCKitchen, an organisation on the ground in Ukraine helping feed people in desperate need.

FYI the album is available on all streaming platforms in CD quality and HD audio on Bandcamp


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