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Wayne Escoffery: Veneration: Live at Smoke

Wayne Escoffery is a thirtysomething Coltrane- and Brecker-derived tenor player possessed of heavy-duty chops and musicality, with a fondness for modern jazz as it existed around the time of his birth. Joined here by vibist Joe Locke, bassist Hans Glawischnig and drummer Lewis Nash in a performance recorded live at New York’s Smoke nightclub, Escoffery and Co. turn out a set of bop and postbop tunes with skill and feeling.

Locke is an agile accompanist and strong soloist, Glawischnig keeps great time and swings hard, and Nash is, as usual, infinitely sensitive and resourceful. Like many tenorists Escoffery’s age, he owes a heavy debt to the late Michael Brecker-an influence most keenly felt on uptempo tunes like Booker Little’s “Looking Ahead,” on which he’s apt to rely on trademark Brecker-isms as a means of keeping his line flowing. Therein rests Escoffery’s most pronounced flaw. Often his solos seem to rest on a random succession of licks, immaculately executed but not always having much to do with one another. He’s better when he slows down, as on the Strayhorn/Ellington classic “Isfahan,” wherein the quality of pastiche that intermittently characterizes his up-tempo work is replaced by a more personal and coherent melodicism.

Originally Published