Brian Landrus: Traverse (2011)
Saxophonist/composer Brian Landrus' Traverse is a mature, cohesive and intensely personal musical opus that reflects his various influences. Although adept at playing multiple reed instruments. Landrus is best-known for being a baritone saxophonist, an instrument he mostly sticks, along with some bass clarinet, with on this, his third CD.
His creative and personal approach to blending the past and the future is best reflected in the solo improvisation, "Soul and Body," which is in the spirit of "Body and Soul," and precedes his lyrical interpretation of that classic song with a melodic, spontaneous approach that builds on the famous standard's chiefdom in reverse.
His classical influences are on display on the mostly improvised duet of piano and horn, "Lone." Although clearly rooted in the jazz idiom, the track is reminiscent of 19th century piano and voice pieces, except that the inimitable Michael Cain, who also co-composed many of the tracks, is no mere accompanist but an equal partner in the creative process.
Most of the compositions have a dark, modal bend to them. The hypnotic "Gnosis" opens with Lonnie Plaxico's sparse yet evocative bass solo, which introduces to Landrus' theme on bass clarinet, an instrument he wields with a remarkable facility, especially on the complex and intricate solo that follows. Cain's bright piano, in his electrifying improvisation, complements Landrus' deeper hues and tones well.
"Lydian 4" is very much influenced by the work of George Russell. and Cain's angular pianism supported, by the duo of Plaxico and drummer Billy Hart, blends seamlessly into the bassist's contemplative notes, as he takes over for a short but powerfully creative solo
On the bluesy "Creeper," Hartwho subtly drives the proceedings with his idiosyncratic drumming, gets to let loose on an energetic yet contemplative improvisational flight, before the short ballad, "Soundwave," concludes the record, maintaining the same atmosphere and thematic unity.
Brian Landrus has created a solid, intimate musical work, aided by a superlative trio of veteran musicians who not only do not overshadow him but, instead, enhance his musicianship.
Track Listing: Traverse; Gnosis; Lone; Lydian 4; Soul and Body; Body and Soul; Creeper; Soundwave.
Personnel: Brian Landrus: baritone sax, bass clarinet; Michael Cain: piano; Lonnie Plaxico: bass; Billy Hart: drums.
Record Label: Blue Land Records