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Michael Hudson-Casanova: Animus


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Michael Hudson-Casanova: Animus
On his second release as a leader, the captivating Animus, saxophonist Michael Hudson-Casanova leads his trio on a cohesive set of eight of his originals. The contemplative, moving music is complex and nuanced, inventive and accessible. Hudson-Casanova, who has already demonstrated his superb compositional skills on his debut, goes further on the current album, creating a unique blend of a haunting ambience and provocative substance.

Guitarist Erik Skov begins the title track with reverberating vamps which bounce off drummer Gustavo Cortiñas' crescendo rustling beats. Hudson-Casanova lets loose a melancholic and fiery performance which is full of forlorn passion, while Skov and Cortiñas color the backdrop with vibrant sonic hues.

Elsewhere, Skov opens "What If Everything Is Not Enough" with resonant and crisp strums, setting an expectant mood. Cortiñas adds a dynamic, percolating undercurrent, setting the stage for Hudson-Casanova who states the main theme with elegance. Guest trumpeter James Davis echoes the leader's refrains and then engages him in an intriguing duet which transforms into a sparse and mystical four-way musing. On the tune's second part, the band seamlessly returns to embellishing the main melody with suave creativity.

The poetic "Etude For Clementine," appearing here in two incarnations, features Hudson-Casanova's introspective improvisation which meanders in a graceful and serpentine path. Cortiñas' understated brushes rustle hauntingly while flirting with angular rhythms; Skov solos with equal lyricism, occasionally mirroring Hudson-Casanova. The intimate trio performance has some delightfully dissonant edges, giving it a sense of urgency, The reprise of the piece is a dialogue between Hudson-Casanova and Skov. Without Cortiñas' earthy simmering beats, this version has a more ethereal, somber sound, with the pair drawing upon western classical sensibilities as they extemporize.

Animus is an imaginative and cohesive work which demonstrates Hudson-Casanova's talents to the full. The saxophonist emerges as a mature composer, a democratic bandleader of this synergistic trio, as well as an innovative improviser. This is a recording which will stand the test of time.

Track Listing

Recycle, What If Everything Is Not Enough, The Now, Animus, Etude For Clementine, Continuum, Infinite Perspective, Aftermath, Etude For Clementine (Duo Version)


Album information

Title: Animus | Year Released: 2023 | Record Label: Passerine Records

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