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Ryan Keberle & Catharsis: Find the Common, Shine a Light (Greenleaf)

Review of trombonist's album with a decidedly political bent

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Cover of Ryan Keberle & Catharsis album "Find the Common, Shine a Light"
Ryan Keberle & Catharsis album “Find the Common, Shine a Light”

With Find the Common, Shine a Light, trombonist Ryan Keberle has now issued three albums in five years with his piano-less ensemble Catharsis, each one a thoughtfully conceptual disc boasting Keberle’s superb arrangements. But this latest Catharsis outing sacrifices the prominence of the group’s musical virtues for topical social commentary.

The purpose here is to protest the election of Donald Trump, and, via music, set forth a psychological blueprint for resisting the advancement of his policies. It begins auspiciously: “Become the Water” is beautifully scored as a soft, billowing anthem reminiscent of Keberle’s mentor Maria Schneider, blending the consciousness theme of Keberle’s past few discs with gentle cheerleading for resistance as vocalist Camila Meza intones the album’s title refrain. “Al Otro Lado del Rio” (“Across the River”), by Uruguayan composer Jorge Drexler, continues the water theme, features the distinctive horn voicings of Keberle and trumpeter Mike Rodriguez, and recalls the emphasis on relatively obscure South American music that burnished last year’s Catharsis disc, Azul Infinito.

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