Friday, February 10, 2017

Live The Spirit Residency Presents Young Masters - Coming of Age (Live the Spirit Residency, 2016)

The Chicago jazz scene has a wonderful history of mentorship, whether via the AACM or venues like The Velvet Lounge and the Empty Bottle; the city's experienced musicians take the young ones under their wing and the music grows because of it. Alto saxophonist Ernest Dawkins founded the nonprofit Live The Spirit Residency to encourage young musicians to share improvised music with economically disadvantaged neighborhoods.  On this album he is joined by four of his musical progeny: Isaiah Collier on tenor saxophone, Alexis Lombre on piano, James Wentzel on bass and Jeremiah Collier on drums.The music is a joy to listen to, running the gamut from blues and ballads to outre exploration, beginning with "Blues in Tyne" which has a soulful rhythmic foundation supporting ripe saxophone which becomes fast and emotional. Everyone gets a turn in this long performance and the music never lags. Taken at a subtle medium tempo with lush piano playing, "Before You Go" features a deft bass solo which anchors a solid swinging tune. The saxophones pick up the pace, leading the music to a great slashing conclusion. "June 11" has some raw, fast saxophone leading the charge, building to a white-hot fervor. After a fine drum solo for Collier, the band returns to take this steaming performance out. They channel the spirit of John Coltrane on "Crash" with raw boned saxophone and lightning fast rhythm accompaniment. The music quests relentlessly forward with scalding interplay between the reeds and rhythm section. "Heath's Groove" is brash and open with the band developing coiled potential energy, and the saxophones and drums develop a deep groove before the piano, bass and drums unit calms before everyone returns for the final flourish. Finally, "Racing Minds" opens with a quiet meditation before some rattling percussion kicks things into gear. The full band develops a strong collective improvisation, ending the album with a vibrant and epic crescendo. This was an excellent album of modern jazz, and Dawkins is to be commended for bringing these excellent young musicians to our attention. Coming Of Age -

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