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Sean Nowell: The Kung-Fu Masters (2013)

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Sean Nowell: The Kung-Fu Masters Track review of "Mantis Style"

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

New York City-based saxophonist Sean Nowell
Sean Nowell
Sean Nowell
b.1973
sax, tenor
has found a home with the increasingly prominent West Coast modern jazz record label, Posi-Tone Records. His fourth release highlights the turbo-powered acoustic-electric band, The Kung-Fu Masters. Word has it that the ensemble has been creating a buzz in The Big Apple, and in recent times has acted like a jazz collective, featuring guest spots by formidable players such as guitarist Mike Stern
Mike Stern
Mike Stern
b.1953
guitar
and trumpeter Jeremy Pelt
Jeremy Pelt
Jeremy Pelt
b.1976
trumpet
. Now that Nowell has firmed-up the core band, let us hope that this high quality album signifies the beginning of a lengthy recording cycle. Simply put, this unit knocks the living daylights out of conventional jazz-funk stylizations.

"Mantis Style" is an example of the ensemble's vast weaponry. Marked by difficult super-funk time signatures and regimented unison lines, either keyboardist Art Hirahara
Art Hirahara
Art Hirahara
b.1971
piano
or Adam Klipple calm the waters by rewinding the intensity with supple electric piano phrasings then up the ante, summoning the frontline to reenergize the proceedings. Think of James Brown
James Brown
James Brown
1933 - 2006
vocalist
's JB Horns kicking matters into submission via a rigorously technical arrangement, shadowed by punchy accents and snappy choruses. With some push and pull, the musicians restate the primary theme towards the finale as trombonist Michael Dease
Michael Dease
Michael Dease
b.1982
trombone
navigates the perimeter while offering subtle contrasts. Here and throughout, Nowell and associates dish out a sweltering modus operandi with an irrefutable vengeance.

Personnel: Sean Nowell: tenor saxophone; Brad Mason: trumpet; Michael Dease: trombone; Art Hirahara: keyboards; Adam Klipple: organ, keyboards; Evan Marien: bass; Marko Djordjevic: drums.

Record Label: Posi-Tone Records

Style: Beyond Jazz


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