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Renee Rosnes: Beloved of the Sky (Smoke Sessions)

Review of album by pianist accompanied by Chris Potter, Steve Nelson, Peter Washington and Lenny White

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Cover of Renee Rosnes album Beloved of the Sky
Cover of Renee Rosnes album Beloved of the Sky

Finding a more simpatico crew for this quintet date from Renee Rosnes would have been hard. Besides the leader on piano, the lineup consists of saxophonist/flutist Chris Potter, vibraphonist Steve Nelson, bassist Peter Washington and drummer Lenny White—good listeners all, and listening is at the core of these nine tracks. For as exquisitely melodic as the frontline can be here, their best bits aren’t always found in individual solos.

The point, in short, is counterpoint. It’s built into the stately melody of “Scorned as Timber, Beloved of the Sky,” as Rosnes and Washington split off from Potter’s soprano halfway through the statement of the head to construct a tasty supporting line. It’s present when Potter and Rosnes solo together, Dixieland-style, before they return to the darting theme of “Elephant Dust.” And it’s there pretty much every time Rosnes and Nelson play together. The two weave their most intricate tapestries within a pair of tunes that honor Bobby Hutcherson, “Mirror Image” (which Rosnes originally wrote for Hutcherson to perform) and the late vibraphonist’s own “Rosie.” On the former, during Potter’s solo, they fill the background with a multi-textured cloud of notes; on the latter, Rosnes comps underneath Nelson’s solo with such perfect anticipation of what he plays that it’s as if they were one four-armed beast.

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Originally Published