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The group Alchemy Sound Project is the result of five accomplished composers and bandleaders pooling their resources. The five are saxophonists Salim Washington and Erica Lindsay, trumpeter Samantha Boshnack, pianist Sumi Tonooka and bassist David Arend. Each one contributes a composition to this, their third release together. The result is a varied set of complex and restless modern jazz, arranged to showcase the playing talents of the group's members.
Arend's "The Fountain" is a jangling group collage which has the horns stuttering over a looming, broken beat. The rhythm section of Arend, Tonooka and drummer Chad Taylor maintain the composition's choppy tempo well as the horns swoop and blare in unison. Both saxophonists and the pianist contribute busy, agitated solos against Taylor's explosive drumming. On Tonooka's own "Dark Blue Residue" the entire group sets up an exotic Middle Eastern vamp. Over it are features by Michael Ventoso on trombone and Washington on flute. Then the piano darts around to a bulging groove and Lindsay takes a searching tenor saxophone solo.
Washington provides the title track, "Afrika Love," a dramatic ballad with African folk overtones. He begins it by weaving the slowly expanding theme on alto flute and Yusef Lateef-like oboe. Then Arend's groaning bass leads into brightly tumbling .trumpet from Boshnack. That leads to Lindsay and Washington taking individual tenor saxophone solos, keening and bellowing like John Coltrane over the rhythm section's lush flow, Boshnack's "The Cadillac Of Mountains" has a martial bolero feel with her trumpet ringing out over a low chorus of clarinets. Ventoso, Washington on bass clarinet, and Lindsay on tenor all also contribute strong, brooding solos over the pattering, off- center rhythm. Lindsay's composition "Kesii" opens with a swirling chorale of clarinets and brass that turns into a well-constructed web of horn interaction. Wah-wah trombone, piano and trumpet all stand out amidst the shifting tempos and moods of LIndsay's multi-faceted piece..
This music is complex and sometimes densely arranged, but the musicians really dig into the writing and bring it to life. Sumi Tonooka's restless piano, David Arend's strong bass lines and Chad Taylor's versatile drumming are consistent standouts . Their ability to keep up with the ever-shifting dynamics of this music is impressive and gives full support to the excellent work of the horn players. The compositions of the Alchemy Sound Project are intriguing in their own right but the way the playing brings them to life is special.
The Fountain; Dark Blue Residue; Afrika Love; The Cadillac of Mountains; Kesii.