In this impressive leader debut, tenor saxophonist Ari Ambrose steps to the fore as a fully formed stylist. First, there’s his rich, warm reedy sound that, while edgy, is never raucous. Then, there’s his ample technique and dramatic use of dynamics. At 26, the brash New Yorker is a master of his horn whose spontaneous, turn-on-a-dime forays have been heard most recently with the Village Vanguard Jazz Orchestra. And while he can spin sheets-of-sound with the best of the Trane-tuned tenors, here, Ambrose’s touchstone is clearly Sonny Rollins. Listen, for example, to his nuanced playfulness with the gently Latinized “I Wish I Knew.” Ditto for the dusters left in the wake of his “Esorbma,” a gallop as delightfully mad as Alice’s dash through Wonderland.
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