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Hashem Assadullahi: Pieces (2013)

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Hashem Assadullahi: Pieces How we rate: our writers tend to review music they like within their preferred genres.

Saxophonist Hashem Assadullahi
Hashem Assadullahi
Hashem Assadullahi
b.1981
saxophone
and his core band returned to the studio to release an exceptionally strong sophomore effort with Pieces. The Texas born-Northwest cured-New York-based musician revealed his penchant for melody on his prior release Strange Neighbor (8bells, 2009). Here he builds upon that foundation with a scattering of themes from pop tunes, avant-garde leanings, and some deftly orchestrated group improvisations.

Assadullahi's returning partners here are guitarist Justin Morell and trumpeter Ron Miles
Ron Miles
Ron Miles

trumpet
, who yearly receives the "artist deserving wider recognition" award for his playing. The saxophonist augments Tyler Abbott (bass) and Ryan Biesack (drums) with pianist James Miley.

To Assadullahi's credit, the music ranges in style and tone. Opening with the Eastern feel "Prized Possession," and the closing track "The Missing Piece," he knits together the ethereal and spiritual sounds, à la John Coltrane
John Coltrane
John Coltrane
1926 - 1967
saxophone
, of both a serious and inquiring mind. A pretty, self-possessed ballad, "The Harbinger," finds the saxophonist playing a poised soprano saxophone line over, then around, the warm tones of Miles. The music is confidently arranged throughout. "Digging Out" by James Miley, could easily be mistaken for a Dave Douglas
Dave Douglas
Dave Douglas
b.1963
trumpet
composition. The band pounces upon their prudent interplay, meshing notes to create an unperturbed swing.

Assadullahi ventures back to the heyday of the 1960s Blue Note sound with "Fingersticks," a piece that could've been imagined by Kenny Dorham
Kenny Dorham
Kenny Dorham
1924 - 1972
trumpet
and Joe Henderson
Joe Henderson
Joe Henderson
1937 - 2001
sax, tenor
. The sextet mines a more contemporary approach with "Dark Tower" and "User Error," which feature Miley and Biesack, respectively. The almost throwaway piece, "Pretty" is a take on 60s pop music. While its simplicity suggests BJ Thomas singing a Burt Bacharach tune, its melody gets lodged in the mind's eternal loop. And that really is not a bad thing.

Track Listing: Prized Possession; The Straight Man (Walking the Dog on a Sunday); Pretty; The Harbinger; User Error; A Bag of Oranges; Digging Out; Seal Island; Fingersticks; Dark Tower; The Missing Piece.

Personnel: Hashem Assadullahi: saxophones; Ron Miles: trumpet; Justin Morell: guitar; James Miley: piano; Tyler Abbott: bass; Ryan Biesack: drums.

Record Label: OA2 Records

Style: Modern Jazz


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