With Introducing the C.J. Heptet, alto saxophonist and flutist Cleave Guyton continues the great tradition of saxophonist/arranger/stylists that have helped, by artistic measure, to define the underpinnings of composed and improvised instrumental music since its inception. Much like his direct influences, Sonny Stitt, Hubert Laws, Cannonball Adderley, James Moody and Frank Wess, to name a few, Cleave has chosen to frame himself squarely in an environment that is demanding of a player’s command of time, feel, swing and the ability to relay their perspectives on life, emotion, relationships and compassion without over dramatization and excess. Cleave Guyton delivers in earnest, without hesitation and with a bold fearlessness that is all too revealing of his true humanity as an artist. Introducing the C.J. Heptet is an absolute ear feast, serving generous portions of modernist aural delights which will surely satiate any willing listener’s appetite for a sterling portrayal of a progressive artist who is deeply steeped in the (affectations of) the jazz tradition. With a robust saxophone tone and a lilting, and yet, haunting flute sound, Cleave utilizes every color available to him in the sonic palette. Leaving nothing to chance, no stone unturned and no holds barred, the “Heptet” offers swing as the centerpiece and primary motivation for their collective journey. Cleave Guyton is most certainly a musician who is forging a well-conceived and honest path in modern jazz. He is a veteran, in-demand section and session musician, educator and a flag bearer of the noble principles of sincerity and soulfulness. His music evokes a humanistic quality, full of emotional expression and spirit. On this project, Cleave makes a gracious and artful usage of a vast array of genres, forms and styles and he has crafted a collection of pieces that firmly detail what his creative perspectives and aspirations are. There are no secrets or illusions here. This work is about as transparent as any could possibly be. Introducing the C.J. Heptet is confirmation that a redefinition of true artistry has been made and this will long be considered a new standard for years to come. Please allow yourselves to enjoy these musical stories that have been so unselfishly shared with us.    Greg Osby NYC 2012


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