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Benito Gonzalez: Circles

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Sparked by Jeff “Tain” Watts’ turbulent pulse and grounded by Christian McBride’s solid bass tones, this sophomore outing by the brilliant Venezuelan pianist Benito Gonzalez is further distinguished by three powerful saxophonists in Azar Lawrence, Myron Walden and Ron Blake. Gonzalez flashes killer chops and swings intensely alongside his world-class bandmates here. They reach incendiary peaks on the thrilling “Taurus,” “Journey’s End” and the Elvin Jones tribute “Elvin’s Sight,” all of which boast Lawrence channeling his inner Trane and Watts traversing the kit with heroic abandon. Gonzalez pays homage to McCoy Tyner with an inventive arrangement of “Blues on the Corner,” summons up vintage Herbie Hancock references on “The Movements,” and turns in a stirring solo piano piece, “Elise.”

Originally Published