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December 2007

Jason Lindner Big Band
Live at the Jazz Gallery
Anzic

There’s nothing earth-shattering on Live at the Jazz Gallery, either from keyboardist Jason Lindner or his 12-piece postbop band. That’s important to remember, because this double-disc generates the kind of euphoria that’s usually reserved for something earth-shattering. It’s just that good.

Lindner plays against big-band type by emphasizing the players, not the arrangements (pointedly listing each track’s soloists). It’s almost a shame considering the arrangements’ magnificence; they’re as full as an orchestra twice this one’s size. But the individuals do excite, even astonish, when they play off each other as trumpeter Duane Eubanks and sopranoist Jay Collins do on “Suheir.” After a rapturous ensemble crescendo, they launch into a duel, trading four-bar phrases that begin as meditations and escalate into frenzies, each man pushing the other into bolder, wilder territory.

Over nine glorious tracks, everyone gets to shine, sometimes three to a tune: Bassist Omer Avital and siblings Avishai (trumpet) and Anat (clarinet) Cohen devour the klezmer-ish “Song for Amos.” Unquestionably, the honchos are Lindner and Collins. The former has a juicy, usually gorgeous part on every track, whether for piano (“Inbal”), organ (“Freak of Nature”), pulsating Rhodes (“Rumors”) or what-have-you; the latter is always prominent, even in the ensemble, and delivers a gruff, boozy vocal on the irresistible closer “Poem for You Today.” But everyone shines.

Live at the Jazz Gallery is a strong contender for 2007’s Top-10 lists. The only conceivable liability is its length—but good luck finding something dispensable.

Originally published in December 2007
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