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Michael McClennan: Sing In Me Muse (2007)

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Michael McClennan: Sing In Me Muse How we rate: our writers tend to review music they like within their preferred genres.

Michael McClennan's Sing in Me My Muse showcases his superb octet on a set of swinging, straight-ahead jazz tunes from north of the US border. Bassist/composer McClennan teaches at Humber College in Toronto, Canada, and has been named the SOCAN/IAJE Emerging Composer for 2007. He is also the bassist, arranger and musical director for Canadian songstress Heather Bambrick, co-producing her excellent It's About Time (Self Published, 2004). His arrangements on that disc gave the set a real luster, and they do the same for the eight tunes—six original and two standards—here.

The title tune opens with a rolling piano and soft drum and bass rumble behind Pol Cousse's flute that gives way Kelly Jefferson's wailing tenor sax. Tara Davidson gets a turn on soprano sax next, bringing the atmosphere a more measured feel, with the band surging behind her, blowing down out of the Highlands to reel into a Scottish pub.

McClennan's arrangements slip back-and-forth between a little big band approach and open space allowing a lot of room for soloing. "Good As Golson" is a bright swinger that features a cool bopping tenor sax up front with some sweet harmonies, leading into William Carn's turn on trombone.

Lerner and Lowe's classic "On the Street Where you Live" is underlain by a prowling clarinet/piano/bass/drums rhythm that gives the tune a dark hue, and "I'm Glad There Is You," by Paul Maderia and Jimmy Dorsey, is a highlight, featuring Davidson's wistful and achingly beautiful soprano sax floating over the gentle swell of the of the arrangement.

"Mr. D's New Shoes" steps out and closes the show on an up-tempo groove and some cut-it-loose soloing—tenor sax, trombone, and McClennan, mixed in with some in-your-face unison blowing: Mr. D's new shoes must be of the dancing variety.

Track Listing: Sing In Me Muse; The Cordial Kestral; Good As Golson; On the Street Where You Live; Red Hill Gno; I'm Glad there is You; Mr. D's New Shoes.

Personnel: Tara Davidson: soprano saxophone; Kelly Jefferson: tenor saxophone, clarinet; Pol Cousse: baritone saxophone, clarinet, flute; John MacLeod: cornet, flugelhorn; William Carn: trombone; David Braid: piano; Michael McClennan: bass; Sly Juhas: drums.

Record Label: Self Produced

Style: Straight-ahead/Mainstream


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