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Keith Oxman: Dues in Progress

If anyone still needs convincing that outstanding jazz players live and work in places other than on the East and West Coasts, they should check out Denver-based Keith Oxman’s latest recording. The tenorist’s sixth album for Colorado’s Capri label features superb players, mostly from Denver and elsewhere in the state, who can hold their own with anyone anywhere. The leader himself is an excellent improviser, with a fine sound, agile technique and sure harmonic sense. He also exhibits a thorough knowledge of the hard bop language and can swing like crazy. Plus he’s an imaginative composer and arranger, having written six of the album’s 12 tunes and arranged another.

Pianist Chip Stephens, bassist Ken Walker and drummer Todd Reid lay down solid time and interact with the horn soloists in a sensitive, supportive manner. Those soloists include veteran trombonist Curtis Fuller and trumpeter Al Hood as well as, on one tune, trumpeter Marcus Hampton. Pianist Stephens himself proves to be one of the most exciting soloists of the session. He’s also responsible for one of the CD’s many innovative arrangements, a poignant version of “Darn That Dream” that features the principal oboist with the Colorado Symphony, Peter Cooper.

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