All About Jazz

Home » Articles » CD/LP/Track Review

25

Anthony Branker & Imagine: Beauty Within

Karl Ackermann By

Sign in to view read count
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

Unity

Unity

Anthony Branker
Together

Ancestral Tales

Ancestral Tales

Anthony Branker
Dialogic

Ascent

Ascent

Anthony Branker
Blessings

CD/LP/Track Review
Interviews
Live Reviews
CD/LP/Track Review
Read more articles
Beauty Within

Beauty Within

Origin Records
2016

buy
The Forward (Towards Equality) Suite

The Forward (Towards...

Origin Records
2014

buy
Uppity

Uppity

Origin Records
2013

buy
Dance Music

Dance Music

Origin Records
2011

buy
Blessings

Blessings

Origin Records
2009

buy

Related Articles

Read Walk The Walk CD/LP/Track Review
Walk The Walk
by Mark Sullivan
Published: May 21, 2018
Read Vol II CD/LP/Track Review
Vol II
by Geno Thackara
Published: May 21, 2018
Read Months, Weeks and Days CD/LP/Track Review
Months, Weeks and Days
by Glenn Astarita
Published: May 21, 2018
Read Space Is The Place CD/LP/Track Review
Space Is The Place
by James Fleming
Published: May 21, 2018
Read Poetry in Motion CD/LP/Track Review
Poetry in Motion
by Liz Goodwin
Published: May 21, 2018
Read Murals CD/LP/Track Review
Murals
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: May 20, 2018
Read "Second City" CD/LP/Track Review Second City
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: September 9, 2017
Read "LAIV" CD/LP/Track Review LAIV
by Mark Corroto
Published: April 15, 2018
Read "Falling Forward" CD/LP/Track Review Falling Forward
by James Nadal
Published: July 27, 2017
Read "Phrases" CD/LP/Track Review Phrases
by C. Michael Bailey
Published: January 12, 2018
Read "The Best of the Grateful Dead Live" CD/LP/Track Review The Best of the Grateful Dead Live
by Doug Collette
Published: April 27, 2018
Read "Skyscraper Souls" CD/LP/Track Review Skyscraper Souls
by Glenn Astarita
Published: May 17, 2018