Saturday, May 17, 2014

Listening Notes 3

Ralph Bowen - Standard Deviation (Posi-Tone, 2014) Ralph Bowen is widely active in New Jersey and New York as a saxophonist and educator. This album finds him recording selections from the standard repertoire in the company of of Bill O'Connell on piano, Kenny Davis on bass and Donald Edwards on drums. Although the material on this album is quite familiar, they play the music with self-confidence and assurance. Opening with the medium tempo “Isn’t It Romantic” in which they pursue the music in a patient and thoughtful manner, the group uses the melodic material to unlock more of potential of the music like on the well known song “Yesterdays” where Bowen begins the song at a ballad tempo before slowly ramping up his solo to a fine faster statement. This album may not reinvent the wheel, but for fans of the popular songbook, this is classy and accessible jazz that is sure to please. Standard Deviations -

Xavi Reija - Resolution (MoonJune, 2014) Spanish drummer Xavi Reija leads a strong power trio with Dusan Jevtovic on guitar and Bernat Hernandez on fretless bass guitar. The music is frequently exciting as the group mines a jazz fusion/prog rock groove that carries them through the LP. “Dreamer” is an extraordinary performance, with the band building to a torrid improvisation with two guitars and drums pummeling the senses. “Unfinished Love” is another powerhouse, even more taut than the first song I mentioned, ripping into the music with abandon, making this an ideal disc for fans of progressive jazz or rock music. Resolution -

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