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Nick Brignola: Poinciana

Nick Brignola used to be one of the best-kept secrets in jazz. He is a virtuoso on the baritone saxophone, but hadn’t appeared on the major scenes for some time. Nevertheless, he has begun to attract attention again in forums such as magazine polls, and he continues to record a series of excellent albums on the Reservoir label.

This album maintains that high standard. Brignola plays with staggering virility and facile expertise on the sometimes cumbersome bari, and he produces a sound that is silky smooth and possessed of honest emotion.

Here, Brignola is backed by a rhythm section of Phil Markowitz, Steve LaSpina and Billy Hart, that is a little more open and impressionistic, which provides a contemporary sound on some of the more sensitive pieces. Brignola also can burn and he gives spirited assaults to driving renditions of “Well, You Needn’t” and “Airegin,” for example.

Markowitz plays the Korg X5 Synthesizer on some tracks. For the title cut, “Poinciana,” he lends an airy, exotic feel that allows Brignola to pay homage to Ahmad Jamal, and then some. On the other two synthesizer cuts, the effect is not as salutary.

Originally Published