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Joe Martin: Passage (2004)

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Joe Martin: Passage No stars How we rate: our writers tend to review music they like within their preferred genres.

Young bassist Joe Martin doesn't just make his instrument walk or run, he makes it dance and leap. Couple his agile lines with a huge, singing tone, his intriguing compositions, and first-rate sidemen, and you've got the ingredients for Passage.

Mark Turner is one of the best of today's younger saxophonists. He's got a personal sound and conception, with influences as diverse as John Coltrane and Warne Marsh. Over the past decade, Kevin Hays has quietly become a top-shelf pianist, and drummer Jorge Rossy has made a name for himself as he powers the Brad Mehldau Trio with strength and subtlety.

Above all, however, Passage is an ensemble album. The interplay here is as deep as that in many working bands. Martin and Rossy are particularly communicative, sometimes implying the time, sometimes obtaining a kind of floating momentum, sometimes flat-out cooking. They seem to complete each other's thoughts.

Martin's compositions exhibit quite a variety in moods and settings. "Manhattanville" has a boppish head, followed by entwining, contrapuntal improvising by Turner and Hays. "Overwhelmed" is a dry, sensitive ballad, and "Closure" is an up-tempo swinger. Even when swinging, this group demonstrates a thoughtfulness and restraint that seems to indicate a sort of 21st Century cool style. The cool feel resonates all the more in Turner's long melodic lines and grave, slightly cloudy tone.

Where are all these terrific young musicians coming from? I don't know the answer, but Fresh Sound New Talent certainly does an admirable job of locating and recording them. With Joe Martin and Passage, the label has come up with another winner.


Track Listing: Poppy's Song, Nothing Like You, Five On You, Overwhelmed, Manhattanville, Passage, Reminiscence, Closure.

Personnel: Joe Martin, bass; Mark Turner, tenor saxophone; Kevin Hays, piano; Jorge Rossy, drums.

Record Label: Blue Moon

Style: Straight-ahead/Mainstream


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