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Marilyn Lerner: Birds Are Returning

Jim Santella By

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Recorded in Havana and featuring an international lineup, Marilyn Lerner's latest release builds upon the strengths of her trio and expands the ensemble in differing numbers. Joining pianist Lerner, acoustic bassist Kieran Overs and drummer Dafnis Prieto, are Jane Bunnett on flute and soprano saxophone, Cuban "young lion" Yosvanny Terry on alto and tenor saxophones, Javier Falbo on baritone saxophone, and Inor Sotolongo on Latin percussion. A trio of Cuban bata drummers is included on Horace Silver's "Que Pasa" and Lerner's "Runaround" for a natural rhythmic feel.

It is this earthy musical base that combines with the higher birdlike voices to give the album its name. As birds return in springtime to a barren land, the flute, piano, and tenor saxophone flit about on the title track, while bassist and percussionists weave a tango rhythm with other complex lines. "Condensation" offers a similar contrast, with Bunnett's fluid soprano sax walking hand-in-hand with Falbo's baritone sax, in unison, keeping the candle lit at both ends. By its nature, the soprano saxophone sounds very different in the hands of different players, and Bunnett's sound is somewhat richer than most. Not light like water, but fluid nonetheless, her soprano saxophone would therefore compare to something denser, like Mercury.

Using the core piano trio with added hand percussion from Sotolongo, Lerner pays tribute to Ahmad Jamal on "I Loves You Porgy" by instituting dreamy chords and a light Latin beat similar to the "Poinciana rhythm." "... not to startle the strangeness away" was inspired by the music of Ornette Coleman; Lerner's composition is up-tempo with just enough avant-garde material to capture the interest of an average jazz enthusiast. She's a talented pianist and composer with interesting things to say. Should this recording prove difficult to find, Jazz Focus Records is at 2217-23rd Street, Calgary, Alberta, Canada T2T 5H6, and there's a web page athttp://canuck.com/jazz


Track Listing:

Runaround; I Loves You Porgy; Solomon; Que Pasa; Imogene; ... not to startle the strangeness away; Condensation; Say Now Always; Birds Are Returning.

Title: Birds Are Returning | Year Released: 1997 | Record Label: Jazz Focus Records

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