Brian Scanlon: Brain Scan

Nicholas F. Mondello By

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Brian Scanlon: Brain Scan
Woodwind artist Brian Scanlon has established himself as one of the most respected of the go-to players working the L.A. studio scene. His offerings in the Grammy®-winning Gordon Goodwin's Big Phat Band have lent plenty to that unit's success.

In the intriguingly named Brain Scan, Scanlon moves out into the leader's spotlight with a superb nine-cut effort featuring some superlative solo and killer small ensemble work. Eight of the diversely-grooved cuts are Scanlon originals, many of which are contemporized melodic platforms for his and others' improvisational extensions.

The title cut, "Brain Scan," kicks off things with a fiery-riffed theme displaying keen virtuosity and a palpable freedom of extended expression. The alto-guitar doubled portion is a slick orchestration bit and features Scanlon's son, Avery on guitar. "El Entrometido" has a Vince Guaraldi/Charlie Brown flair on which Scanlon's tenor kicks tail more than Lucy's footballs. Pianist Tom Rainier and drummer Peter Erskine buy in with superb solos. More contemporized grooves and tempos are explored on the textured "Not Watching" and introspectively darker "Mark's Time." The iconic saxophone feature, Earle H. Hagen's "Harlem Nocturne," has Scanlon burning white-hot and the ensemble driving. "My Right Foot" is another darker textured Scanlon original that features a tasty Ed Czach piano solo and bassist Trey Henry driving.

Scanlon's improvisational approach is one of extended creative ideas, each playing off of a fertile gold nugget. His sound is rounded on both axes and that plays well into the Moebius ribbons he strews—for example, on the straight-ahead contrafact "I Hear a Rhapsody." A lyrically-focused player, Scanlon keeps ideas flowing at a tsunami's rate, latching on to our ear where we await the next creative splash.

The rhythm section is also top-notch with pianists Tom Ranier and Ed Czach, guitarists Larry Koonse and Avery Scanlon, "Phat Boy," Andy Synowiec, bassist Trey Henry, percussionist Joey De Leon and drummer Peter Erskine.

Brain Scan may be word-play with Brian Scanlon's moniker. However, this recording displays an emanation from his and his team's collective cabezsas that is 100% "Scantastic."

Track Listing

Brain Scan; El Entrometido; Re-Entry; Not Watching (for Nancy); I Hear Something; Harlem Nocturne; Mark's Time; My Right Foot; Scandalized.


Brian Scanlon: saxophone; Tom Ranier: piano; Ed Czach: piano; Trey Henry: bass, acoustic; Peter Erskine: drums; Andrew Synowiec: guitar; Larry Koonse: guitar; Avery Scanlon: guitar; Jeoy De Leon: percussion.

Album information

Title: Brain Scan | Year Released: 2020 | Record Label: Scan Man Music

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