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Trumpeter Jonathan Saraga opens his debut, First Vision with the eleven-and-a-half-minute original, "Guidance," a probing rumination that flares up during his solo. The tune as a whole is a slow burn, but it bursts into high flames as it comes to its conclusion.
The leader has assembled a fine quintet of standard configurationtwo horns, a chording instrument (here, guitar), bass and drums. The music, all Saraga-penned, has an uncommon freshness coming from a 24 year-old artist who is well on his way to forming his own compositional voice. "Guidance" opens with a ponderous bass line from Jeff Dingler
, soon joined by the front line, Saraga and alto saxophonist Colin Gordon. The trumpeter's solo has a succinctness of phrasing, a breathy tone in front guitarist Peter Parks dark chords as drummer Gusten Rudolph seems to push the sound into a higher gear with a gathering momentum, one that downshifts into a coasting mode as Gordon takes his turn out front with a well-constructed solo.
"Rebellion" blows to life with a 1960s Blue Note Records sound, until Park moves into resonant and uncharted territory with a beautifully measured solo in front of some eloquent drum work, giving way to the bright and articulate Saraga.
There are lots of chops all around, but it's the well -synchronized ensemble work that stands out. "Recurring Dreams" opens in a drifting mode, somewhat in the manner of trumpeter Miles Davis
Nefertiti (Columbia, 1968), but then the group cranks things up, giving the horns some space to wail.
Jonathan Saraga, who won the 2007 International Trumpet Guild Jazz Solo Competition, and was one of five finalists in the 2009 Carmine Caruso Jazz Trumpet Solo Competition, has shown great promise as a young jazz artist. With First Vision, his excellent recording debut, that promise begins its realization, as a player, composer and bandleader.