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Brandon Wright: Boiling Point

Bruce Lindsay By

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Brandon Wright: Boiling Point New York based tenor saxophonist and composer Brandon Wright debuts confidently as a leader on Boiling Point—a strong and enjoyable straight-ahead album that seems set to establish his reputation on the jazz scene. Wright surrounds himself with some fine musicians and makes a judicious and unusual selection of standards to accompany his own tunes, ensuring a consistently high quality recording.

The opening riff of "Free Man," played by Wright and trumpeter Alex Sipiagin, starts things off with a real bang—it's hard hitting, emphatic and swinging. "Boiling Point" is in a similar hard bop vein—this time Wright's tenor takes the lead line on its own while the rhythm section drives the tune forward. "Drift" is, by contrast, a smooth and gorgeous tune on which all of the musicians demonstrate real mastery of their instruments—controlled yet emotive performances across the board here, especially from bassist Hans Glawischnig and drummer Matt Wilson.

Wright's arrangements of two jazz standards are excellent. Jimmy Van Heusen's "Here's That Rainy Day" and Harry Warren's "You're My Everything" are beautifully played, with Wright's warm and confident tenor playing to the fore—David Kikoski's piano solos are also extremely impressive, showing a delicate and sympathetic touch.

Wright is not simply locked into the jazz tradition—he also has an ear for the music of other genres as he ably demonstrates with a version of "Interstate Love Song," written by Robert DeLeo of hard rock band Stone Temple Pilots. Wright takes the tune—originally on the band's 1994 album Purple (Atlantic) and voted 58th in VH-1's 100 Top Hard Rock Songs—and performs it on his own terms, investing the tune with a real straight-ahead jazz feel rather than attempting to "rock out." The result is a success—a fluid, melodic, arrangement that retains some of the song's hard edge but is recognizably a jazz performance.

Boiling Point is an intriguing album, with some exceptional playing from all of the musicians. Wright clearly demonstrates his writing and playing talents while his version of "Interstate Love Song" shows that he is willing to step out of the jazz mainstream in search of interesting and adaptable tunes—it's an exploration that more jazz musicians should be willing to undertake and sets Wright up as a talented innovator of great promise.

Track Listing: Free Man; Drift; Odd Man Out; Boiling Point; Here's That Rainy Day; Castaway; Interstate Love Song; You're My Everything.

Personnel: Brandon Wright: tenor saxophone; Alex Sipiagin: trumpet; David Kikoski: Piano; Hans Glawischnig: bass; Matt Wilson: drums.

Year Released: 2010 | Record Label: Posi-Tone Records | Style: Straight-ahead/Mainstream

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