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April 2007

Various Artists
Brooklyn Jazz Underground, Volume 1
Fresh Sound Records

Showcasing artists united under the banner of the Brooklyn Jazz Underground, this 10-track compilation offers music that has been (for the most part) previously released but not very widely heard. It alerts listeners to some superior work done between 2002 and the present, but it also makes for a self-contained experience, with great variety in terms of instrumentation, ensemble size and aesthetic outlook. Violist/violinist Tanya Kalmanovitch contributes “Kailash,” a darkly hued reverie with pianist Myra Melford, drawn from a forthcoming duo CD. Trombonist Alan Ferber leads a nonet through the densely orchestrated “Flin,” and, with his twin brother Mark on drums, turns up on two other tracks as well: bassist Alexis Cuadrado’s “El Gran Profeta,” which swings and snarls in midtempo to lead off the album, and tenor saxophonist Dan Pratt’s brisk “20/20,” featuring the nimble organ of Jared Gold.

Within this collective, no one “style” predominates. Trumpeter Shane Endsley’s “Jim White,” a haunting four-horn chorale, sits well with bassist Anne Mette Iversen’s multi-meter swing piece “Where to Place the House,” or drummer Sunny Jain’s South Asian-informed “Johnnie Black,” or pianist Benny Lackner’s edgy Prince cover “Sign of the Times.” Drummer Ted Poor gives us the churning, drone-based “Wade” and also appears on “North,” by the gifted tenor saxophonist Jerome Sabbagh (both have Ben Monder on guitar). Think of it as a mixtape, a calling card from artists who operate in a small world but like to think big.

Originally published in April 2007
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