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Kait Dunton: Mountain Suite (2012)

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Kait Dunton: Mountain Suite How we rate: our writers tend to review music they like within their preferred genres.

The seeds for this project were planted when pianist/composer Kait Dunton jotted down a few measures of music while sojourning in the Canadian Rockies, but this passionate music actually sprung to life inside a recording studio in Pasadena, California. Dunton, a Los Angeles-based artist pursuing a doctorate at the University of Southern California's Thornton School of Music, gathered a USC-associated dream team together to bring this project to fruition, but this is anything but an all-stars-carrying-the-young-kid session; there is no doubt that Dunton is the chief operating officer here.

Mountain Suite is a collection of themes, moods and settings that works best when taken as a whole, rather than absorbed a track at a time. It's a captivating journey filled with multihued expressions, covering a wide expanse of emotional possibility that moves from sadness to joy and uncertainty to inevitability over time. Some tracks showcase Dunton-as-composer ("The Dream") while others shine a spotlight on her performing side ("Path"), but the complete artist is what remains on the mind when all is said and done.

Simplicity appears to be at the core of this work when the album opens ("Day One"), but that thought is quickly dispelled; "Path" immediately makes the case for Dunton as a voice of the future. As the album continues, she explores an isolated version of wonder with some help from bassist Darek Oles
Darek Oles
Darek Oles
b.1963
bass, acoustic
("Enchantment"), creates a downy bed for the ears ("The Dream") and lets trumpeter John Daversa
John Daversa
John Daversa

trumpet
and saxophonist Bob Mintzer
Bob Mintzer
Bob Mintzer
b.1953
saxophone
go at it ("Mountain"). Drummer Peter Erskine
Peter Erskine
Peter Erskine
b.1954
drums
is his usual superb self throughout, whether setting a groove in motion or simply providing a brief cymbalic gesture. Some tracks don't quite live up to their name ("Night") but still meet high standards, and other numbers hit the title nail on the head; boundless joy and scampering sounds, for example, are ever-present on the aptly named "Frolic."

To some people mountains mean majesty and to others they mean grandeur but, above all else, mountains point to a firm standing and a permanent place on the horizon; Dunton has certainly earned her place on the jazz horizon with this one.

Track Listing: Day One; Path; Enchantment; Frloic; Towards Night; Night; The Dream; Mountain; Return.

Personnel: Kait Dunton: piano; John Daversa: trumpet; Bob Mintzer: tenor saxophone; Darek "Oles" Oleszkiewicz: bass; Peter Erskine: drums.

Record Label: Self Produced

Style: Modern Jazz


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