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Alex Harding & Blutopia: The Calling

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Alex Harding’s The Calling reminds me of a time not so long ago when jazz maintained fairly consistent values-before “straightahead” and “free” became irreconcilably separate, when jazz musicians weren’t afraid of being imperfect and style had yet to win out over feeling. The brainy yet gut-busting baritone saxophonist/bass clarinetist fronts a quintet of first-class improvisers (Lucian Ban, piano; Brad Jones, bass; Nasheet Waits, drums; Andrew Daniels, percussion) in a set long on both musical sophistication and emotional depth. The original compositions swing very hard; a streak of gospel runs through most, and an unalloyed blues feel is ever – present.

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