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Wellstone Conspiracy: Motives (2010)

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Wellstone Conspiracy: Motives How we rate: our writers tend to review music they like within their preferred genres.

The Wellstone Conspiracy is a collective venture for four of the more prolific jazz musicians residing in the Northwest region of the United States. The group consists of Idaho-based saxophonist Brent Jensen
Brent Jensen
Brent Jensen
b.1960
sax, soprano
and from Seattle, pianist Bill Anschell, bassist Jeff Johnson
Jeff Johnson
Jeff Johnson
b.1954
bass
and drummer John Bishop
John Bishop
John Bishop
b.1959
drums
. The quartet, previously heard together on Jensen's One More Mile (Origin, 2008), hits the mark with Motives, a disc full of stunning interplay and individual showmanship.

A highlight of the recording is the opening "Bye Bye Blackwell," Jenson's tribute to the late drummer Ed Blackwell
Ed Blackwell
Ed Blackwell
1929 - 1992
drums
. The tune builds on Johnson's droning double stops and Jenson's lyrical melody with spirited free-form improvising and aggressive drum flourishes from Bishop. Anschell's swinging "Phindango," based on the chord changes to Herbie Hancock
Herbie Hancock
Herbie Hancock
b.1940
piano
's "Dolphin Dance," showcases the pianist's ability to express harmonic sophistication with an inviting warmth. The tune also features one of many exceptional solo spots for Johnson. The bassist shines throughout the recording with a deep-in-the-wood tone and free flowing lines. He is especially poignant on his composition "Portrait," a moving ballad.

Jenson, heard exclusively on soprano saxophone, utilizes subtleness in phrasing his original melodies—the bouncy waltz "Anne Rose" and the quirky "Doop Dee Doop. This same understated approach carries over into his convincing bebop-inspired solos with clever rhythmic variations.

The disc closes with a rather brooding arrangement of Billy Strayhorn

Billy Strayhorn
Billy Strayhorn
1915 - 1967
piano
's ballad "A Flower is a Lovesome Thing." Here, Anschell uses sparse motifs in his solo to create a kind of floating intensity that signifies the underlying motive of the ensemble; a pervading accessibility with a readiness to move freely beyond convention.

Track Listing: Bye Bye Blackwell; Phindango; Anne Rose; Turbulator; Portrait; Stories We Hold; Doop Dee Doop; A Flower is a Lovesome Thing.

Personnel: Brent Jensen: soprano saxophone; Bill Anschell: piano; Jeff Johnson: bass; John Bishop: drums.

Record Label: Origin Records

Style: Modern Jazz


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