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Howard Britz: Here I Stand

London-born bassist-composer Britz came to the States in 1991 on a full scholarship to attend the Berklee College of Music in Boston. He subsequently completed jazz studies at the New England Conservatory of Music before moving to Philadelphia in 1996, and then settled in Brooklyn in 1998. His latest release, a follow-up to his 2005 debut as a leader, Made in Brooklyn, again finds him collaborating with some of the best and brightest on New York’s modern-jazz scene. This time out Britz is accompanied by the excellent pianist George Colligan, the well-established drummer Sylvia Cuenca and two lesser-known but equally accomplished talents, trumpeter David Smith and alto saxophonist Casey Benjamin. Together they tackle Britz’s original compositions-like the gospel-tinged “Yaakology,” the dynamic 6/8 vehicle “Oceans” and the kinetic uptempo boppish romp “New York Roast”-with requisite chops, flexibility and killer instincts.

They settle into Britz’s melancholy ode “Goodbye (for Dad)” with reverence and sensitivity, then delve into a real-deal second-line feel on “Lucky Friday the 13th,” which morphs back and forth between N’awlins funk and New York swing. Along the way, the leader distinguishes himself as a first-rate swinger with considerable soloistic skills, which becomes especially apparent on the down-home medium groover “Brown & Sizzle,” Britz’s tribute to his bass idol, Ray Brown. The composer also explores more sharply intelligent, modernistic fare on the angular modal romp “Scatterbug” and the buoyant 7/4 vehicle “Martha’s Song,” written for his wife.

Originally Published