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Avi Granite: In Good Hands (Pet Mantis)

Avi Granite's new album is the perfect entrance to Canada's creative and vibrant Jazz scene.

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Cover of In Good Hands by Avi Granite

If ever there was a launchpad to immerse oneself in Canada’s creative jazz and vibrant scene, Toronto guitarist and composer Avi Granite is the ideal place to start. Although Granite has called New York City his homebase for quite some time, his musical heart is seemingly informed by and driven in part by his Canadian peers. Granite’s adventurous new set arrives with the very fittingly titled In Good Hands because that’s exactly what it is: the perfect realization of invaluable creative relationships and a shared inspiration. 

In Good Hands collects a hodgepodge of Granite’s original compositions, a handful of which have never been recorded and others plucked from past albums. He then put the 11 tunes “in the good hands” (I did say it was a stellar title) of 11 of his fellow Canadian musicians in exclusively solo performances. The results are truly a revelation as Granite’s richly melodic pieces are transformed and reimagined in solo guise. 

Many of Granite’s bandmates, both in Toronto and New York, are entrusted with reinterpreting his songs and each bring their own uniquely heady perspective to In Good Hands. “Like A Magazine” (a high-spirited Mingusian track from 2019’s Orbit) takes on a whole new intimate life as tenor saxophonist Pat LaBarbera slow-burns his way through it with a warm and arresting tone. Drummer Ted Warren gives a dizzily complex percussion workout to the new piece “19 Seconds Or Less,” while Nick Fraser spins abstract beauty with the sticks on Orbit’s “Critical Eddie.” Meanwhile, guitarist Ted Quinlan’s “Like John” (taken from Snow Umbrellas) is a particularly glorious dose of bluesy jazz goodness. 

With other Granite band regulars like trombonist Tom Richards, bassist Neal Davis, and flugelhornist Jim Lewis pitching in, Avi Granite’s latest lives up to its title on this terrific outside-the-box program. 

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