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Craig Bailey: Brooklyn

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Alto saxophonist and flutist Craig Bailey spotlights the music of his group, Brooklyn, on his latest recording, and it is obvious from the opening notes of the date’s first tune, “The Crux of the Matter,” that he’s been heading this ensemble for over 11 years. There are no stilted performances or ragged edges that repeatedly surface on blowing sessions or hired-gun dates. This band has played these songs long enough to have a polish and precision, which is refreshing. The group also brings a sense of purpose to Bailey’s compositions as well as an absence of ego and showboating.

The core sextet includes brass specialist Derrick Gardner (much better on trumpet than flugelhorn), trombonist Dupor Georges, pianist Kelvin Sholar, bassist Eric Lemon and drummer Vincent Ector. The unit sounds genuinely excited and exuberant on the uptempo numbers, with Bailey’s bright alto and sparse flute work as interesting during the group exchanges as on the solos.

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