In a sea of Chris Potter and Mark Turner derivatives there emerges saxophonist Brandon Wright – a throwback player who channels the vernacular of more mainstream players such as Michael Brecker and Eric Alexander.
To this end, Wright’s debut recording Boiling Point is a high-intensity straight-ahead jazz album featuring an assortment of original compositions and standards. The opening track “Freeman,” is an up-tempo blues reminiscent of Brecker’s “Song for Bilbao” right down to the McCoy Tyner-esque voicings of pianist David Kikoski and bright ride cymbal pattern of legendary drummer Matt Wilson. Following the angular melody played in unison by Wright and trumpeter Alex Sipiagin, the pair launch into burning post-bop solos which set the tone for the rest of the album.
The title track is another up-tempo number that alternates between stop time, swing, and Latin sections, and has improvisation interspersed with the melody. Wright takes center stage again displaying his bright tone and angular lines all while navigating the tricky 26 bar form with ease. Other originals include “Odd Man Out” a late modal piece à la Wayne Shorter (think a cross between “Witch Hunt” and “Fee-Fi-Fo-Fum”), and the atmospheric waltz “Drift”.
Of the three covers, the beautiful rubato duet between Wright and Kikoski on “Here’s that Rainy Day” is the standout. His versions of the jazz standard “You’re My Everything” and “Interstate Love Song” by American rock group the Stone Temple Pilots remain for all intensive purposes unchanged.
There is no doubt of Wright’s immense talent and instrumental prowess. And while it is refreshing to hear a young sax player who has not succumbed to the cult of the David Binneys and Seamus Blakes of the world, it is equally refreshing to hear a player who is attempting to find their own voice. This may be undue criticism however, as Wright is only 27 years of age (a fact listed on his website). Considering that he is already playing at such a high level, Wright is definitely one watch out for.