Monday, October 05, 2020

Alan Braufman - The Fire Still Burns (Valley of Search, 2020)

Alto saxophonist and flutist Alan Braufman returned to the jazz consciousness in grand style with the re-issue if his excellent 1975 Valley of Search LP. Reconvening with the pianist of that album, Cooper-Moore, he created this new album in the company of James Brandon Lewis on tenor saxophone, Ken Filiano on bass, and Andrew Drury on drums. On "Morning Bazarr" the group uses melodic piano, crisp drumming and emotive bass to create supple rhythm section playing. The reed instruments join in, playing a rising and joyful theme, where light textured flute takes flight, soaring at will around the easy going rhythm, shaded by tenor saxophone that takes over for a fine solo section. The band develops a deep groove and rides it well pushing forward in an accessible and colorful manner. "No Floor No Ceiling" develops very fast paced full band motion right out of the gate with impressive piano soloing creating a maelstrom of sound. Horns play with unfettered power, digging deep and arcing long over-blowing tones of pure sound, showing discipline within the freedom, with each saxophonist taking a different approach which is equally successful and interesting to hear, pushing hard to explore the outer limits of their expressiveness.  Musicians vital energy in "Home" shows the way that the music develops the theme and the band uses it to catapult themselves into greater states of excitement and energy. A piercing saxophone solo develops, creating on the fly outside of the dynamically fluctuating group theme, raw peals of sound punctuate this flight, with the second saxophone using some of that energy for a following statement that is framed with heavy piano and pummeling drums, so that he must push mightily to make it. The incantation like track seems like something that could could go on for a half hour, but it's rolled up in a svelte six minutes. "Creation" creates a loud swirling sweeping drama in the opening section, breaking out to have a wider palate to draw from with dark droplets of piano notes, and deep elastic bass and drums. The music is complex yet compelling, leading to a rhythm section centerpiece that was absolutely top notch. The horns enter, adding further fuel to the fire, long tones of saxophone framing and abetting the piano, bass and drums to push further as their tones deviate and get wilder still, reaching for the heavens with every note. This album worked very well, with the musicians exploring a wide range of material from free to ballads with equal skill. Braufman has clearly lost none of his focus or drive, leading to a very successful project. The Fire Still Burns - amazon.com

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