A wonderful statement of introspective, sometimes edgy original music by saxophonist/ flutist Larry Ankrum with his '90s Minnesota quartet. This group featured well known Twin Cities drummer Jay Epstein, guitar guru Dean Magraw, and the late beloved acoustic bassist Chuck Adams. This album was recorded direct to 2-track DAT by Chopper Black, so the music heard is exactly as it was played in the studio.
Larry Ankrum is well known as co-leader (with trombonist Jeff Albert) of The Albert-Ankrum Project. Based in New Orleans, Ankrum is a busy woodwind specialist who plays all over the world on soprano, alto, and tenor saxes, flute, piccolo, alto flute, and clarinet.
Here are some reviews of It Cannot Be Exhausted By Use:
Jazziz Magazine, by Bob Young May 1994
Minneapolis-based tenor saxophonist and flutist Larry Ankrum offers up a nice find of an album, It Cannot Be Exhausted by Use (CDL Records) that reminds a listener that not all original music is being made in the jazz metropolises of the country. Ankrum's tenor displays a shimmering tone, and, in several spots, a quicksilver attack reminiscent of Richie Cole that works wonderfully with fellow Minnesotans Dean Magraw on guitar, Chuck Adams on bass, and Jay Epstein on drums. The eight Ankrum originals here range from bop to reflective balladry to slightly outside excursions, and Magraw's smart and quirky guitar work keeps it all wide open and clean-lined. A solid disc from a talented quartet.
Twin Cities Reader, by Tom Surowicz April 20-26, 1996
Everything about this new local jazz release is hip. That includes the stylish neobop music; the arresting, blocks-of-color cover design, by Karen McCall Pengra; and the CD's cryptic, intriguing title. Just exactly what cannot be exhausted by use? Perhaps it's the modern laser disc format. Or maybe it's the solo inventions of saxophonist Ankrum and his well-schooled pals - guitarist Dean Magraw, bassist Chuck Adams, and drummer Jay Epstein.
The title might also refer to the resiliency of bebop music itself, a well that never runs dry. Crackling rhythms and fertile chord changes always satisfy. In any case, Ankrum can be proud of this no-label debut efort.
Ankrum is a most unlikely jazz hero. The least-known player on his own disc, he spends his nights dishing out glossy R&B and cocktail rock at the Stone Wings restaurant in Bloomington. But on this labor of love, Ankrum's lithe, light-toned tenor delights, and his multihued compositions are stellar. The saxman is as indebted to understated, laid-back reed icons Stan Getz and Paul Desmond as he is to the more fashionable, extroverted '90s tenor touchstones John Coltrane and Joe Henderson - and that's different and cool.
Magraw proves once again that he's the Twin Cities' most resourceful guitarist - in any genre. This CD would hold up mighty well alongside some ballyhooed new jazz album from the Blue Note, Columbia, or Atlantic Records labels.
Cadence Magazine, by Richard Kamens
The music created by the four musicians on Larry Ankrum's debut disc is best listened to through headphones or late at night when there are few distractions. The music is quiet yet driving, subtle and expansive - if one is not paying attention to the disc, the music disappears. It would be a shame to miss the fine work of the rhythm section. Chuck Adams is a "basics" bassist, his lines bluesy, simple, yet full enough to support the soloists. The cymbal work of drummer Epstein is tasty - he is more of a colorist in that he skirts around the beat, seeming to follow the soloist as opposed to working in tandem with the bassist. Listen to him behind Ankrum on the title tune and you'll hear a player who listens to what's being played.
The music reminds me a bit of what Sonny Rollins created with Jim Hall, not so much in the content as in the sound. But, Ankrum is not a muscular tenor player - even on the uptempo tunes, such as "El Nino Magico", he has a soft sensuous tone somewhat like Paul Desmond's. Not that he does not possess fire because, on the same tune, he lets loose with a barrage of notes. His is not an oppressive sound or style. Ankrum displays a bluesier tone on the slower pieces. "Max And Ginger" slides along an easy walking bass line and snappy snare work. The tenor solo is loose with a few quick bursts of notes and one phrase in which Ankrum hints at going "out". He has a soft touch on flute, sounding more like James Newton than Roland Kirk. "Coming Apart" is a fiery piece - great brush work from Epstein - but Ankrum does not take his flute lines to extremes, playing in the instrument's medium to medium-high range.
Guitarist Magraw is an excellent partner. Though he plays electric guitar, his lines rarely sting or wail. There is a touch of Pat Metheny and John Abercrombie in some of his chordal work but I hear Herb Ellis and Charlie Christian in his solo lines. He is an unobtrusive player, his chordal work blending in with the cymbal splashes and walking bass lines. I get the feeling that these guys have spent a lot time playing together because the music feels comfortable, unrushed but not hesitant. One can hear the ease of the players on the ultra-slow "Kiss Constellation"; nobody hurries, no one feels the need to add an extra note, no one gets in the way of the lovely tenor line.
Good music need not beat the listener over the head. Sometimes the listener needs to be aware of how good quiet music can be. It Cannot Be Exhausted By Use is a quite enjoyable set of music and deserves your attention.