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Dezron Douglas: Black Lion (self-released)

A review of the bassist's seventh album as a leader

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Black Lion by Dezron Douglas
Cover of Black Lion by Dezron Douglas

This six-track EP showcases both the versatility and musical depth of bassist Dezron Douglas, whose ensemble includes tenor saxophonist Stacy Dillard, altoist Lummie Spann, trumpeter Josh Evans, and drummer Jeremy “Bean” Clemons, along with, at various points, keyboardists Willerm Delisfort and David Bryant.

Douglas, who studied under the late Jackie McLean at McLean’s Institute of African American Music at the Hartt School of Music in Hartford, Connecticut, is a gifted composer as well as a deft and imaginative player. This is his seventh album as a leader; all six selections are Douglas originals, and they span a wide stylistic range. The streetsy swagger of the funky “Negroidius Maximus” is sanctified by churchy organ work along with Spann’s jubilant testifying on alto; “Alexis,” a medium-tempo ballad, is charged with dark urgency, deepened by Douglas’s resonant bass work; “Bottoms Out,” a tightly-wound hard-bop workout, pulsates with a high-voltage intensity; the spirit-infused, lilting reggae of “Great Provider” finds Douglas and drummer Clemons reveling in their mastery of that deceptively simple one-drop beat.

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