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Keith Javors: Mo’ City Jungle

The Florida-based pianist-composer Keith Javors fronts a small group of cutting-edge players on his third impressive outing as a leader, Mo’ City Jungle (Zoho). From the fiery, open-ended title track, marked by searing, Trane-inspired solos from tenor saxophonist Juan Carlos Rollan and his alto playing counterpart Dane Bays, to the easy-swinging Messengers-flavored groove of “In Essence,” Javors distinguishes himself as a bandleader intent on collective envelope-pushing. The hard bop burnout on “Conclusion of the Matter” rushes with energized solos from Rollan, Bays and crackling young trumpeter Ray Callender.

As a pianist, Javors reveals his debt to Herbie Hancock and McCoy Tyner. For a change of pace, he delves into the sublime on an extended solo piano intro to “The High Road,” and reprises his intimate chemistry with altoist Bays (they performed together in 1996 as a duo called Mantra) on the soothing and aptly named “Symbiotic Interlude.” Elsewhere, it’s full steam ahead for this potent sextet.

Originally Published