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Brandon Wright: Boiling Point

Dan Bilawsky By

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The word tenor, in Latin, refers to "a continuous holding to a course," and tenor saxophonist Brandon Wright does just that on Boiling Point. Whether Wright is engaging in a musical boxing match with trumpeter Alex Sipiagin or crooning over pianist David Kikoski on an established ballad, he always seems to maintain a consistent musical presence that transcends tempo, feel and style. Perhaps it's his tone, which is big but not too brash and attractive, yet far from smooth, that ties it altogether. Regardless of what it is, Wright makes it work across these eight tracks.

Of course, some of the credit must also go to the rest of the band. Bassist Hans Glawischnig is the rock at the center of it all, making sure that everything lines up and is held together in just the right way. Drummer Matt Wilson, one of the most creative and enjoyable forces on the jazz scene today, has the rare ability to be fully interactive, while also maintaining his role as a key rhythmic element that locks in the time for the rest of the band. Kikoski occasionally shows a fondness for McCoy Tyner's piano playing in his own sound, but he isn't nearly as percussive as Tyner often was on his classic recordings. He also happens to have tremendous range as an artist and an incredible touch on the piano.

Sipiagin is the perfect frontline partner for Wright and he finds a good balance between bold and controlled. He creates some musical fireworks on Wright originals like "Odd Man Out" and "Castaway" but he can also turn it down a few notches for gentler material. While the aforementioned "Castaway" and the title track demonstrate Wright's ability to write and play in a more aggressive manner, he works equally well in a more relaxed setting. His "Drift" sounds like it could have been an outtake from Herbie Hancock's Maiden Voyage (Blue Note, 1965) and his performance on "Here's That Rainy Day" is soothing and refined. His tone takes on a velvet-like quality here as he gently glides over Kikoski's piano. While his playing often heats up the material on this album, it's Brandon Wright's ability to go from cool to hot and everything in between that proves to be his greatest strength on Boiling Point.

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.

Title: Boiling Point | Year Released: 2010 | Record Label: Posi-Tone Records

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