508

Anthony Branker & Ascent: Blessings

John Barron By

Sign in to view read count
Anthony Branker & Ascent: Blessings Composer/arranger Anthony Branker and his ensemble Ascent follow up on the critically acclaimed release Spirit Songs (Sons of Sound, 2006) with Blessings, a spirited collection of progressive jazz. The music was composed during a residency Branker participated in at the Estonian Academy of Music where he represented the United States as a Fulbright Scholar. The recording features a first-rate cast of east coast heavy-hitters.

The disc's themes are strong, matter-of-fact musical statements. The lyrical simplicity of tunes such as "Ascent," "Crystal Angel," and "Wisdom" is livened by the front line of alto saxophonist Steve Wilson, tenor and soprano saxophonist Ralph Bowen, and trombonist Clifford Adams Jr.. Vibraphonist Bryan Carrott plays a dual role of percussive accompanist and horn-like soloist. The individual soloing, especially Bowen's, is intense throughout.

With so many fiery soloists to contend with, pianist Jonny King maintains a mostly supportive role, however, when given the opportunity to shine, as on the title track, his lines come across as flowing and swift. The somber, drawn-out piano pattern on "Sacred Song" is performed with heightened sensitivity.

Branker's music relies on a strong rhythmic foundation, with Afro-Cuban inspired grooves and solo sections over energetic vamps. Throughout the session, the pulse is aptly supplied by drummer Wilby Fletcher and bassist Belden Bullock. Conguero Renato Thoms enhances the montuno groove on "Crystal Angel" and "Arise."

With a unique combination of depth and accessibility, Branker is able to put forth a jazz perspective steeped in soulful optimism.


Track Listing: Ascent; The Holy Innocent; Crystal Angel; Sacred Song; Blessings; Arise; Wisdom; Never Alone; Praise.

Personnel: Anthony Branker: composer, arranger; Steve Wilson: alto saxophone; Ralph Bowen: tenor/soprano saxophone; Clifford Adams Jr.: trombone; Bryan Carrot: vibraphone; Jonny King: piano; Belden Bullock: bass; Wilby Fletcher: drums; Renato Thoms: congas (3, 6).

Year Released: 2009 | Record Label: Origin Records | Style: Modern Jazz


Shop

More Articles

Read Akua's Dance CD/LP/Track Review Akua's Dance
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: February 21, 2017
Read Daylight Ghosts CD/LP/Track Review Daylight Ghosts
by Mark Sullivan
Published: February 21, 2017
Read Live at PafA CD/LP/Track Review Live at PafA
by Matthew Aquiline
Published: February 21, 2017
Read Ocean of Storms CD/LP/Track Review Ocean of Storms
by Troy Dostert
Published: February 21, 2017
Read Transparent Water CD/LP/Track Review Transparent Water
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: February 20, 2017
Read Billows Of Blue CD/LP/Track Review Billows Of Blue
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: February 20, 2017
Read "Alto Manhattan" CD/LP/Track Review Alto Manhattan
by Mark Sullivan
Published: December 18, 2016
Read "Come Together" CD/LP/Track Review Come Together
by James Nadal
Published: May 27, 2016
Read "Solstice" CD/LP/Track Review Solstice
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: October 30, 2016
Read "Reflection" CD/LP/Track Review Reflection
by Nenad Georgievski
Published: January 14, 2017
Read "Magic Light" CD/LP/Track Review Magic Light
by James Nadal
Published: April 26, 2016
Read "Anthology - Bigger Than Life" CD/LP/Track Review Anthology - Bigger Than Life
by Doug Collette
Published: December 24, 2016

Post a comment

comments powered by Disqus

Sponsor: ECM Records | BUY NOW  

Support our sponsor

Support All About Jazz's Future

We need your help and we have a deal. Contribute $20 and we'll hide the six Google ads that appear on every page for a full year!

Buy it!