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Lucian Ban and Asymmetry: Playground

This acoustic album is heady, electric stuff, from one of the strongest, freshest new bands in New York. They are pianist Lucian Ban (originally from Bucharest, Romania), alto saxophonist Jorge Sylvester (originally from Panama) and a powerful rhythm force of bassist Brad Jones and drummer Derrek Phillips.

What makes Playground work is the juxtaposition of Ban’s Old World intellectual romanticism and Sylvester’s earthy Third World fervor. The opener, “Hieroglyphics,” is a veering, convoluted anthem with fierce drum breaks and skittering volleys from Sylvester over Jones’ broken ostinato. Ban’s solo slides off in spare, provocatively independent, paradoxical abstractions.

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