Brian Landrus: Forward (2010)
On this magnificent set, Landrus is joined by Harald Genzmeron tenor saxophone, Allan Chase on alto saxophone and Jason Palmer on trumpet. This trio enables Landrus to polish the melodies of his songs until they have a burnished glow to them. Pianist Michael Cain shimmers just below the surface, animating the harmony with ingenuity; on Thelonious Monk's plaintive "Ask Me Now," he adds a minimal but exquisite solo, which breathes as it darts and probes the expanding boundaries of the song. Bassist John Lockwood sways and punctuates the melody with harmonic grandeur. Drummer Bob Moses expounds his wizardry time and time again throughout the set, especially in his superlative brushwork on the Monk chart. Percussionist Tupac Mantilla provides the added color.
Landrus displays an epic narrative style of writing here, often accompanying the sonic tapestry with visual elements traced out of dense clouds of sound and color. On "The Stream," the power and fluid movement of a source of a larger river is captured in a frieze and then released as it charges over silt and stone, ever onward. "Shadows" navigates its way constantly through dark and light as Landrus' crepuscular introductory statements brighten. Then Michael Cain cracks open the sky to reveal a tableau of dancing shadows when the bass clarinet returns with arco bass and thundering percussion. "To Love and Grow" is a svelte ballad that swaggers sensuously in and around the alto flute, punctuated by Moses' brushes and the tinkling of Mantilla's bells, shells and sundry gourds. And so on, from one graphic beauty of a track to another, until the set reachesliterallyits "Destination," another choppy number led by the percussionists.
Brian Landrus is a voice to watch out for as he charts a creative course in contemporary music. What sets him apart is the lyricism of his compositions and his ability to tell interesting, vividly illustrated stories. This album serves as a happy omen of what should surely follow in the near future as Landrus' star begins to rise ever so majestically.
Track Listing: Ask Me Now; The Stream; Shadows; To Love and Grow; Classification; Forward; Beauty of Change; Interpretations; Destination.
Personnel: Brian Landrus: baritone saxophone; bass clarinet, alto flute; George Garzone: tenor saxophone; Allan Chase: alto saxophone; Jason Palmer: trumpet; Michael Cain: piano; John Lockwood: bass; Rakalam Bob Moses: drum set, percussion; Tupac Mantilla: percussion.
Record Label: Cadence Jazz Records
Style: Modern Jazz