The Decider is the latest in Benn Clatworthy’s remarkable string of releases. He’s playing tenor and some flute, Chris Colangelo’s on bass and Ryan Doyle is drumming. It opens with a Latin take on John Lewis’s “Afternoon inParis”, but as he loosens up on the solos we get hints of what’s to come, that maybe Clatworthy doesn’t quite hear a melody the way the rest of us do, and he certainly doesn’t feel constrained to follow any rules on what to do with one. A shadowy “Pannonica” begins tentatively, melancholy, then as Clatworthy leaps from the familiar head into the thin air, the blues lighten and his playing, as if soaring, glides and sails downward, catching the head again on its downward trek. Colangelo strips it all down to the bone. Back in comes Benn, lighter but still melancholy, hung back by whatever’s eating him, an Englishman lost in American blues and clinging to Monk. Colangelo “Patterns” is laid out spare and geometric, a beautiful little bummer of a piece (and dig Doyle’s lighter than air solo). There’s a gorgeous downer take on “I Get a Kick Out of You”, and “Bossa Mia” (for his stepdaughter) swirls in a stiff breeze. On numbers like Monk’s “Off Minor” or Weil’s “This is New” or his own “The Decider” he just goes nuts, running circles around, over, under the melodies. But it’s on “Sister Sarah” (for his sister) we get the classic Clatworthy, stating a theme he repeats and lets hang…it seems to echo over the landscape until he begins to explore all the spaces around it, all the nooks and crannies and corners round which whole new spaces open. When he lays down his horn Colangelo comes in, his muscular bass line finding yet more areas to explore….then there’s a pause and the opening theme repeats, spare and lonely. You catch that in a local club, and you don’t forget it. Benn Clatworthy plays some of the most exciting, intense, beautiful, uncompromising, and personal jazz saxophone there is. Which is what this is all supposed to be about, isn’t it?