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Kim Pensyl: At the Moment

Best known for his piano and keyboard work, including the signature Pensyl Sketches series, Kim Pensyl makes the trumpet his voice of choice for a modern take on acoustic straightahead jazz, At the Moment (Fable/Lightyear 54473-2; 71:56). Though jazz masters-from Miles Davis and Freddie Hubbard to Chet Baker and Charlie Parker-haunt, shade and inspire this work, the twists belong to the fine play of Pensyl and his outstanding ensemble. Where breathtaking rhythms and changes populate the frisky “Blues for Monk,” trippy riffs and hard-blown solos give “Crossed Up” a straightahead fusion flavor. “Frosted Lemons” brings a sly, streetwise strut, while the big, swinging rhythms of “Rulers” background a cool give-and-take between snaking trumpet and piping soprano sax. Other highlights include the affecting “Miles’ Lament,” which finds Pensyl envoking meditative quietude on a sweet, muted lead, and “The Hubster,” a soulful, dancing tribute to Freddie Hubbard. These strong original compositions evoke their inspiration without crossing the line into imitation. The result is a heady, lightly nostalgic romp.

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