24

Anthony Branker & Imagine: Beauty Within

Karl Ackermann By

Sign in to view read count
Anthony Branker & Imagine: Beauty Within The two aneurysms that forced composer and musical director Anthony Branker to give up the trumpet in 1999 have done nothing to stem the tide of thoughtful and progressive music that he consistently delivers. Downsizing from his "Word Play" ensemble, Branker guides a quintet of new and long-time colleagues on Beauty Within.

A regular Branker collaborator, saxophonist Ralph Bowen joins a consummate session man in guitarist Pete McCann who has worked with Maria Schneider, Lindsey Horner and many others. Bassist Linda Oh is quickly becoming one of the most sought-after players on the New York scene and whose eclectic tastes show in all her work. The young, Cuban-born pianist Fabian Almazan had previously worked with Oh on her Initial Here (Greenleaf Music, 2012). Rounding out the group is drummer Rudy Royston who also had worked with Oh, this time on Dave Douglas' Be Still (Greenleaf Music, 2012).

Opening with the appropriately titled "Joy," Branker demonstrates his ability to expertly balance structured and freer forms. That piece, along with the subsequent title track serve to provide all the personnel with opportunities to step out front long enough to highlight their considerable skills. McCann finally lets loose on the fusion piece "Many Roads Beneath the Sky" where this smaller group takes on the personality of Branker's larger troupes. "Grace" features a fine solo by Almazan on the most meditative composition on the album. The fast and funky "People Everywhere" paints a frenetically impressionistic picture before the closing "(God's) Wisdom" recalls Branker's spiritual side with a bluesy gospel opening.

Beauty Within is a solid entry in Branker's catalog. The pieces may not be startlingly unusual in terms of the territories explored, but there is certainly a sense of adventure and fine playing all around. Branker, a career educator, writes with intelligence and class and knows how to surround himself with like-minded artists. He provides those musicians with opportunities to reshape and expand on his ideas and throughout the course of his musical career, he is yet to get it wrong.

Track Listing: Joy; Beauty Within; Loving Day (June 12); Prelude To Wisdom: (We Are) What We Are Not Yet; Many Roads Beneath the Sky; Grace; People Everywhere; (God's) Wisdom.

Personnel: Ralph Bowen: tenor and soprano saxophones; Pete McCann: guitar; Fabian Almazar: piano; Linda Oh: bass; Rudy Royston: drums; Anthony Branker: composer and musical director.

Title: Beauty Within | Year Released: 2016 | Record Label: Origin Records


Tags

comments powered by Disqus

More Articles

Read Developing Story CD/LP/Track Review Developing Story
by Edward Blanco
Published: June 26, 2017
Read Lantern CD/LP/Track Review Lantern
by John Kelman
Published: June 26, 2017
Read Inspirations (featuring Matthew Halsall) CD/LP/Track Review Inspirations (featuring Matthew Halsall)
by Phil Barnes
Published: June 26, 2017
Read Unification CD/LP/Track Review Unification
by Troy Dostert
Published: June 26, 2017
Read Crossing CD/LP/Track Review Crossing
by Geno Thackara
Published: June 25, 2017
Read Unit[e] CD/LP/Track Review Unit[e]
by Karl Ackermann
Published: June 25, 2017
Read "Near Life Experience" CD/LP/Track Review Near Life Experience
by John Kelman
Published: June 27, 2016
Read "Blues, Preludes and Feuds" CD/LP/Track Review Blues, Preludes and Feuds
by Geannine Reid
Published: November 22, 2016
Read "The Hive" CD/LP/Track Review The Hive
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: November 14, 2016
Read "Early Americans" CD/LP/Track Review Early Americans
by Ian Patterson
Published: September 22, 2016
Read "Live At the Stone" CD/LP/Track Review Live At the Stone
by Karl Ackermann
Published: November 29, 2016
Read "Chronosome" CD/LP/Track Review Chronosome
by Budd Kopman
Published: November 24, 2016

Join the staff. Writers Wanted!

Develop a column, write album reviews, cover live shows, or conduct interviews.