Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Elias Haslanger - Live at the Gallery (CD Baby, 2014)

This is a very interesting and accessible live album under the leadership of tenor saxophonist Elias Haslanger along with Dr. James Polk on Hammond B3 organ, Jake Langley on guitar, Scott Laningham on drums and Daniel Durham bass. The music is filled with familiar standards played with a crowd pleasing brio. Opening with Cannonball Adderley’s bluesy and swinging “One for Daddy-O” the band sets the stage for what is to follow with an easygoing organ trio groove with tenor saxophone holding down the front line. That nice groove keeps going on the following track “Watermelon Man” originally composed by Herbie Hancock.  This is a nice stretched out performance where everybody gets a chance to solo. They mix in a few popular songbook standards along with the jazz standards, most notably “Misty” taken at a hushed ballad pace along with “I Thought About You” and “In A Sentimental Mood.” But most impressive are the compositions written by famous jazz musicians like “Adam’s Apple” by Wayne Shorter, an interesting song that is not often covered by contemporary jazz musicians. Haslanger  makes the most of it, using Shorter’s distinctly original composing technique to carve out a strong solo. “Song for My Father” by Horace Silver returns to the funk/soul feel of the earlier performances, delighting the crowd with it’s familiar opening and meat and potatoes groove. This was a fine performance of modern jazz where the instrumentation and the repertoire give the music a timeless quality. The group may not be re-inventing the wheel, but their enthusiasm and subtle swing will certainly appeal to a wide audience. Live at the Gallery - amazon.com

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