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New Jazz Composers Octet: Walkin’ the Line

The independent Fresh Sound New Talent label is based in Spain, but in the last couple of years it has become a place to find the strongest young players in New York. A compelling example is Walkin’ the Line by the New Jazz Composers Octet. It may be the most ambitious, most fully realized project yet undertaken on a label that has quickly assembled an impressive portfolio.

NJCO was founded in 1996 and released its debut album, the well-received First Steps Into Reality, in 1999, also on Fresh Sound New Talent. The frontline is now founder David Weiss (trumpet), Steve Davis or Andrew Williams (trombones) and varying combinations of Jimmy Greene, Myron Walden, Craig Handy and Chris Karlic (reeds). The rhythm section is pianist Xavier Davis, bassist Dwayne Burno and drummer Nasheet Waits. Collectively and individually, this group is successful in addressing the primary challenge facing today’s young jazz musician: how to acknowledge the great achievements of 40 and 50 years ago that shaped the standards of the art form and yet meet the aesthetic imperative of jazz to innovate.

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