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Shawn Maxwell: Originals (2006)

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Shawn Maxwell: Originals How we rate: our writers tend to review music they like within their preferred genres.

Multiple-reedman Shawn Maxwell's debut is entitled Originals, since he penned all the tunes on the disc. He could just have well entitled it "original voice," given his edgy, high-energy, unique approach to jazz—not quite mainstream, not quite free, not quite like anyone else I hear out there these days. The closest comparison might be the late alto saxophonist Jackie McLean. Maxwell has a similarly strung-tight, tart, piercing voice on his saxophones, and his compositions—like McLean's—are full of sharp edges and odd angles, always feeling a little bit on the ominous side.

When he gets to track five, "Clayton's Carnival," the reedman breaks out the clarinet for a bright bouncing romp; and right after that, on "Glamasue," he brings his flute into play for a cool groove. Two tunes on Originals feature trombonist Johanna Malmud, and the combination of saxophone and 'bone meshes nicely. Malmud does a great laid back solo in front of a flexible rhythm team on "Iynes Crayons."

I hear some griping out there about the relative ease of self-publishing a CD these days, noise about too much chaff, not enough wheat. But Originals, all high-protein wheat, is a fine argument for the self-publishing route: Shawn Maxwell serves up his personal and fresh-sounding brand of jazz on his own dime.

Track Listing: Dangerous Curves; Iynes Crayons; Inside Back; The Sixth; Clayton's Carnival; Glamasue; No One Bossa; King Bill; Sister Red; Lunch-Box.

Personnel: Shawn Maxwell: alto and tenor saxophones, clarinet, flute; Johanna Malmud: trombone (2,7); Ryan Trommer: guitar (9); Jakub Rojek: piano; Mike Daly: bass; Glen Schneider: drums.

Record Label: Self Produced

Style: Straight-ahead/Mainstream


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