Aaron Irwin Group: Blood and Thunder

This winning disc works on many levels. Aaron Irwin, a superb alto saxophonist with a lovely tone and fluid chops, is surrounded by stellar talent in tenor saxophonist and frontline foil Chris Cheek, guitarist Ben Monder, bassist Matt Clohesy and drummer Ferenc Nemeth. His compositional style skillfully blends sophisticated harmonies and counterpoint with an engaging melodicism that sticks with the listener, as on the second-line groover “Like the Sunshine,” the playfully swinging “Sprung” and the exquisite ballad “Until We Say Our Last Goodbye.”