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Nick Brignola: Spring Is Here

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Brignola’s baritone saxophone appears in a couple of different settings with the Netherlands Metropole Orchestra on this album. There’s the big band instrumentation and swing feeling of charts such as “Gerrylike,” Brignola’s tribute to the late Gerry Mulligan, “East of the Sun,” and “Linger Awhile” (with Brignola on soprano). There’s also the lush strings-and-woodwinds backdrop of the title track, “When You Wish Upon a Star,” “The Very Thought of You,” et. al. The saxophonist’s fiery, hard-charging bebop playing is the focus. He commands the arrangements with a full-bodied sound and meaty lines, often reaching into the altissimo register.

This is a pleasing album, but it comes in third place-a very respectable third place, mind you-behind a couple of other recent Brignola outings: the superb Poinciana, a quartet and quintet date on Reservoir, and Three Baritone Saxophone Band Plays Mulligan on Dreyfus.