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Idan Santhaus: There You Are

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Although he is a saxophonist and flutist, Idan Santhaus plays on only one cut on There You Are, adding his flute to the title track. The focus here is on composition: The Israeli-born Santhaus spent years writing and arranging the music that comprises this big-band project-his first as a leader-recording it with two different 16-piece ensembles in 2008 and 2011. It’s a sprawling, ambitious but welcoming work, thriving on dynamic contrasts and projecting a unified vibe despite the use of the different groups.

Santhaus establishes a disparity in mood in the shift from the opening, spring-like “After All” to the somewhat darker “Tempo Rarely.” But overall, There You Are never veers too far from the mainstream; it isn’t overtly experimental or determinedly challenging. The quasi-exotic closing piece, “Nothing Yet,” featuring solos from pianist Deanna Witkowski and saxophonist David DeJesus and flirts with dissonance and multiple tempo shifts, but even there Santhaus is more concerned with presenting a listenable, cohesive work than with strutting his compositional chops in any potentially alienating manner.

Originally Published