Thursday, February 17, 2011

Donny McCaslin - Perpetual Motion (Greenleaf Records, 2011)

Saxophonist Donny McCaslin mines the same electric jazz territory that has recently been explored by the likes of Chris Potter, Kurt Rosenwinkel and Dave Douglas. He integrates his strong and agile tone into a group that includes a mixed cast of musicians on Fender Rhodes electric piano, electric bass and drums. "Five Hands Down" opens the album with strong saxophone and keyboards prodded on by powerful bass and drums. The title track, "Perpetual Motion," is one of the album's highlights, beginning at a medium tempo and then building to a strong saxophone statement. Thick bass keeps the music moving briskly, and encourages McCaslin to even greater flights of improvisation, framed by cool Rhodes accents. "Claire" is a probing improvisation with just saxophone, bass and drums recalling Sonny Rollins' great trio flights of the past. McCaslin builds to some heavy, feverish blowing before the keyboards glide into the wide open improv. "Energy Generation" brings funk into the mix with strong deep drumming, leading a full band performance. Things get even grittier on "L.Z.C.M." with the Rhodes and drums combining to mine the mid-70's Herbie Hancock vibe to good effect. This was a very exciting and creative album that make excellent use of the wider musical palette that the electric instruments offer. The music draws from the modern rock of Radiohead and Coldplay while thoroughly keeping its jazz aesthetic firmly in place. Very fine forward thinking music. Perpetual Motion -

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