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Duane Eubanks Quintet: Things of That Particular Nature

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This is a relaxed set that nonetheless bristles with optimism and exploratory drive, toughened by challenging melody lines and taut horn blends that sometimes recall the Jazz Messengers-showing the influence, perhaps, of the late pianist and former Messenger Mulgrew Miller, whom trumpeter/flugelhornist Duane Eubanks cites as a mentor and role model. (“Holding Hands,” Miller’s jazz waltz from his 2002 LP The Sequel, is this disc’s only non-original offering.)

Rather than dazzle us with bombast, Eubanks and his compatriots-saxophonist Abraham Burton, pianist Marc Cary, bassist Dezron Douglas, vibraphonist Steve Nelson and drummer Eric McPherson-rely on imagination and musical dexterity to mine new beauty from what might otherwise seem like conventional contexts. Cadences switch rapidly from swinging midtempo themes into lightly dancing, propulsive allegro interludes, sometimes dissolving into periods of meditative languor along the way (betraying a Miles-ian influence, as does Eubanks’ soft-edged, vibrato-free tone).

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