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Walking Distance Featuring Jason Moran: Freebird (Sunnyside)

Review of irreverent quartet's second album, a sly tribute to Charlie Parker

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Cover of Walking Distance album Freebird
Cover of Walking Distance album Freebird

No, we’re not talking Lynyrd Skynyrd requests here. Walking Distance—the charmingly cheeky and technically adept combination of alto saxophonist Caleb Curtis, tenor saxophonist Kenny Pexton, bassist Adam Coté, and drummer Shawn Baltazor—is freeing Charlie Parker’s music from the shackles of its comfort zone.

Bird is most certainly the watchword throughout, but a deftly jumbled one. Rather than play to past conventions and crank out paint-by-numbers covers, this brazen brotherhood opts to use Parker’s compositions as inspiration, seed material, and springboards. The results are indebted to the totemic alto hero but proudly stand far apart from his renderings.

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