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Renee Rosnes: Beloved of The Sky

Mike Jurkovic By

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For those not familiar with the Tyner-esque bop flourish and Horace Silver-like subtlety of Canadian pianist/composer Renee Rosnes, then the rollicking Beloved of the Sky may be the disc to begin the discovery. Recorded live at NY's Smoke club, the recording features the free-swinging quintet of Rosnes, saxophonist Chris Potter (who is especially frisky and acrobatic here), vibraphonist Steve Nelson, drummer Lenny White, and bassist Peter Washington.

An alum of the 1980's Canadian jazz scene with nine Blue Note recordings in her catalog, including 1999's Art and Soul, 2003's Renee Rosnes with the Danish Radio Big Band, and 2010's duet with husband Bill Charlap, Double Portrait, Rosnes opens her swaggering new disc with the aggressive, no-holds-barred "Elephant Dust," a hard bop romp if ever there was one, with pinpoint staccato changes that keep the band on its toes. It's here that Potter begins his joyride, cart-wheeling with squawking solos in vigorous tandem with Rosnes and Nelson. Washington and White are no slouches, driving the propulsive composition from beginning to end.

Reflecting the cover artwork of painter Emily Carr, "Scorned As Timber, Beloved of the Sky" changes mood quickly. Sounding somber and chamber like, Potter's keening soprano intertwines itself around Rosnes lush, reverberant lines and Nelson's quiet reflection upon them. Rosnes, having played many years with the late vibraphonist Bobby Hutcherson as part of the SFJAZZ Collective, shares a particularly intimate, intuitive sense of melody and flow with Nelson here and on "Mirror Image," a song written specifically for Hutcherson. "Rosie" a Hutcherson composition, is taken as a mid-tempo ballad. "Black Holes" brings the band back to bop, Washington and White again setting the tight pace and Potter ranging wild. Rosnes' quietly ruminative "The Flame and the Lotus" and Alec Wilders' plaintive "The Winter of My Discontent" highlight Rosnes formidable arranging skills and soft, lyrical touch and affords bassist Washington a deep, concise solo. The swinging closer, "Let The Wild Rumpus Start" completes a truly invigorating recording, making Beloved of the Sky one of the absolute best of this new spring season.

Track Listing: Elephant Dust; Scorned As Timber; Beloved of the Sky; Mirror Image; Rosie; Black Holes; The Flame and The Lotus; Rhythm of The River; The Winter of My Discontent; Let The Wild Rumpus Start.

Personnel: Renee Rosnes: piano; Chris Potter: tenor and soprano saxophones; Peter Washington: bass; Lenny White: drums.

Title: Beloved of The Sky | Year Released: 2018 | Record Label: Smoke Sessions Records

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