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June 2004

Ron Horton
Subtextures
Fresh Sound New Talent

Ron Horton debuted as a leader in 1999 with the memorable Genius Envy (OmniTone). His much-anticipated follow-up, Subtextures (Fresh Sound New Talent), features Frank Kimbrough on piano, Ben Allison on bass and Matt Wilson on drums. Their highly attuned artistry makes this concise album a success in every regard. Like Kimbrough and Allison, Horton is a composer-in-residence with the Jazz Composers Collective, as well as a charter member of the Herbie Nichols Project. (Lately he has busied himself as musical director of Andrew Hill's big band.) He and his quartet mates have done considerable amounts of work together, and it shows.

Half the eight tracks on Subtextures are Horton originals, beginning with "Malaby," a brash left-of-center theme named for the budding New York tenor giant. "Ruminations" presents captivating tone rows in 3/4 time, while the title track juxtaposes a languid melody against a skittering 5/4 bass line. "Mutability" is borderline rock 'n' roll; trumpet and piano trade frenetic solo snippets while Wilson digs in his heels. Kimbrough's "Rumors," with its quiet, mysterious theme and busy bass and drums, is another rich study in simultaneous rhythmic contrasts. Andrew Hill's "Cantarnos" gets the album off to a dramatic minor-key start, and two classical adaptations-Messiaen's "O Sacrum Convivium" and a Chopin "Etude"-yield moments of sheer transcendence.

Originally published in June 2004
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