Thursday, May 24, 2012

Hailey Niswanger - The Keeper (Calmit Productions, 2012)

Saxophonist Hailey Niswanger is a promising young musician just out of Boston's Berklee College of Music and recently relocated to Brooklyn. Her compositions and cover tunes reflect her interest bop and post-bop genres of jazz and her continued investigation of the history of jazz. On this album, she is joined by Takeshi Ohbayashi on piano, Max Moran on bass, and Mark Whitfield Jr. on drums. For three selections, trumpeter Darren Barrett adds to the group. "Scraps" and "The Tale of Dale" are the hardest hitting performances on the album, taking a burning uptempo track that effectively grabs attention and develops an appealing early 1960's Blue Note feel. The pace is lightened a bit on "Straight Up" and "Norman" which take a medium tempo and melodic approach with mild mannered saxophone over solid piano trio accompaniment. Barrett makes his presence felt on the bebop standard "Milestones" played at a swinging pace over light percussion. The song develops further with some lightly shaded saxophone and dexterous trumpet. Thelonious Monk's "Played Twice" starts with a gentle reading of the melody then a flighty alto solo and a solid piano, bass and drums interlude, finally gives way to a saxophone and drums section that makes for a fine payoff. This was a well done album by a precocious talent. It can't be easy for a young musician to make it in the ever dwindling scene, but Niswanger certainly has the talent to do so. The Keeper -

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