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Third Coast Jazz Ensemble: Third Coast Jazz Ensemble

If Nashville doesn’t currently turn up on your short list of great jazz cities, the Third Coast Jazz Ensemble (Artifex Records ARO697-2; 51:17) is set to change your mind. With ten Tennessee-based musicians populating the Ensemble, the work (billed in the publicity materials as “smooth jazz”) could easily become a busy muddle-but memorable tracks like the lovely, celebratory horn-based “Whirlwind Passage” prove that this group is not one to “overdress” a good melody. Brass harmony, not synthesizer, is the key to highlight pieces like “Another April,” a sophisticated, old-fashioned sing-out sax ballad with teeth underneath. Likewise, the vibes-like the Tangerine Dream groove of “Steps”-give way to its tightly cornered horn/guitar lead and a cool distortion guitar solo by Fred Bogert. Even in the more typical spots, the Ensemble adds a twist-like soulful harmonica adding depth and color to the keyboard-based, fusion-styled “Like Pearls,” proving that there’s more to Nashville than its fabled country scene.

Originally Published