I’ll admit it straight away: Rotator features a kind of interaction that leaves me pretty cold despite the leader’s excellent intentions. Canadian saxophonist Adkins is first and foremost an avid learner of the history of the instrument, a voice on tenor not instantly comparable to anyone else’s in this “I’m-not-a-Downbeat-critic” memory but not fighting for instant remembrance, either. His career has been constellated of abundant schoolwork and important collaborations, in turn following a passionate attendance of concerts just everywhere as a youngster. Accompanied for the occasion by Russ Lossing on piano, John Hébert on bass and Paul Motian on drums, Adkins presents eight loosely structured pieces where the musicians find vast spaces for self-expression. What the record lacks, though, is internal fire; this deficit is not balanced enough by other types of attractiveness. Even acknowledging the mild interest elicited by the analysis of the parallel developments in an elegant statement such as “Pearl 21”, the instances in which we can think “that’s more like it” are rare. The subsequent “Forena” and the conclusive “Reflection” are probably the finest tracks on offer, slow meditations played with the eyes closed that in any case don’t break any new ground. One has a hard time in remembering highlights, repeated listens only strengthening the conviction that this is a gathering of outstanding players that didn’t translate into a truly terrific session. Reportedly, Motian exclaimed “You’re a lucky motherfucker… I wish all my records came out like this”, talking to the reedist at the end of the recording phase. He acted as a gentleman, for this work deserves two and a half stars at best.

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