Curtis Macdonald: Community Immunity (2011)
Community ImmunityMacDonald's debut on trumpeter Dave Douglas' Greenleaf Musichighlights Macdonald's unique compositional voice and showcases a fearless artist who is willing to break free of the shackles of expectations. Macdonald doesn't pander to populist tastes, but he also understands that music is ultimately something to be experienced by others. While many of his originals are built on complex webs of rhythmic motion and high-order modernist ideals that might normally be scary, Macdonald uses brevity to balance the equation. His original compositions can be confounding or cathartic, but they're always succinct and feature stunning displays of creativity.
Cunning and malevolence are an important part of the package, but these ideas don't define Macdonald's work. The saxophonist mixes pungent musical brews ("Second Guessing") with peaceful musical moods ("Mosaic I"), demonstrating wide-ranging abilities as a composer, conceptualist and performer. While a long list of guests help to explore different ideas from track to track, it's the constant presence of singular voices like bassist Chris Tordini that help to create a high degree of consistency across the entire range of music on this album. Tordini's bass lines often darken the mood ("Childhood Sympathy") and help to lay the groundwork for Macdonald's music, but he also proves to be a compelling soloist ("Somnolence IV"). His rhythm partner, drummer Greg Ritchie, beautifully colors the understated numbers on the album and helps to push the envelope on the more aggressive performances ("The Living Well").
While Macdonald graciously shares space with his band mates and guests, it's his own unique voice that really defines his work. His saxophone can be a beacon of clarity ("Community Immunity") or a bird of prey ("Second Guessing"), depending on his mood, but his ideas are always intriguing. With Community Immunity, Curtis Macdonald establishes himself as one who stands apart from the rest but, with a such a unique musical statement, he just might be embraced by the jazz community at large...if such a thing exists.
Track Listing: Community Immunity; Childhood Sympathy; Figmentum II; Second Guessing; Mosaic I; The Living Well; Somnolence IV; Mosaic II; The Imagineer; My Deal.
Personnel: Curtis Macdonald: alto saxophone; Chris Tordini: bass; Greg Ritchie: drums; Jeremy Viner: tenor saxophone, clarinet (7); David Virelles: piano (1, 3, 7-10); Michal Vanoucek: piano (2, 4, 6); Travis Reuter: guitars (3); Becca Stevens: vocals (5); Andrea Tyniec: violin (5).
Record Label: Greenleaf Music
Style: Modern Jazz