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ejazznews review for Wayne Escoffery “Uptown”…

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Saxophonist Wayne Escoffery transmits maturity beyond his years, and has been in the thick of things within modern jazz since the early 2000’s. He’s an impressive solo artist who has recorded and performed with trumpeter Tom Harrell, vibist Joe Locke and Ben Riley’s Monk Legacy Septet among other jazz luminaries. Here, Escoffery conveys assertive leadership via the democratic group-centric format. And he possesses a fluent mode of attack, which is abetted by his near-flawless phraseology and authoritative presence.

Gushing with resplendent lyricism, the band fuses memorable melodies with radiance and power, yet lowers the temperature when appropriate. Venerable organist Gary Versace comps, contrasts and trades fours with the leader, whether dishing out silvery single note lines or generating dark chord clusters to embed a broad soundscape into the mix.

On “I Got It Bad,” Escoffery intertwines fire and brimstone atop a Texas roadhouse organ-combo vamp, emphasized by punchy and impacting choruses. Nonetheless, the saxophonist’s impeccable timing and tension-building notes are engineered with equal portions of blustery sheets of sound and harmonious accents.

Guitarist Avi Rothbard’s funk licks on “Nu Soul,” conveys a cheery vibe atop the rhythm section’s sturdy pulse, tinted by an appealing motif as Escoffery’s sinewy maneuvers project a soul-stirring aura. With “Maya’s Waltz,” the quartet delves into a climactic jazz waltz groove, where the soloists enjoy some extended space and time to bring it all back home.

Escoffery possesses a monstrous technique, yet the program is not about running through scales and delving into speed-demon time signatures. Consequently, the album communicates modern jazz music that is framed with a sensation of purpose. Among many positives, that notion alone yields much the bountiful fruit. – Glenn Astarita

Track listing: No Desert; I Got It Bad; Cross Bronx; You Know I Care; Road from Eilat; Gulf of Aqaba; Nu Soul; Maya’s Waltz; Easy Now.

Personnel: Wayne Escoffery: tenor sax; Avi Rothbard: guitar; Gary Vesace: organ; Jason Brown: drums.



Written by editor

January 30th, 2010 at 11:19 am

Posted in Reviews

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