Years ago, a group of folks were having dinner at a Westside San Antonio, Texas, restaurant known as Los Barrios. Occasionally, some restaurants there would start a jazz policy. In a place better known for mariachis, this would be a pleasant surprise. One Friday evening, some kid was playing tenor sax, quite a bit of tenor sax, in fact. The guy's namebecause getting his card seemed like a good ideawas Stan Killian
, not a familiar one among the roll of local notables, which made his instrumenal facility even more interesting. What was this guy doing playing here?
There have been a number of players who made the seventeen-hundred mile trek from San Antonio to New York, such as Ernie Caceres
, for one. Others have, too, but Killian has stuck around, for good reason.
While the temptation to label him a Texas Tenor is understandable, that is not really fair to Killian. Apart from being able to blow with a raw edge, he does not really put a listener in mind of Arnett Cobb
, Buddy Tate
, or David "Fathead" Newman
. In the end, he sounds very much himself, modern, less bluesy or r&b than any of the other Texans. On "Horizon," one thinks, a taste of Sonny Rollins
, but Killian's bridge is the Brooklyn, not the Williamsburgh. Killian also plays with
his band, not just backed by a rhythm section. "Shibuya Crossing," which he dedicates to his Japanese fans, is an interactive production, not just solo tenor, and pretty as well. We get to hear plenty of both bassist Corcoran Holt
and McClenty Hunter
, a fine drummer who can definitely play time. "Concept of Peace" is reflective, framed by Paul Bollenback
's spare guitar and a fine arco solo on bass which shows how far bowing on jazz bass has come since Paul Chambers
. Bollenback also provides a reflective solo which strikes a delicate feeling. Killian comes roaring back on "Brooklyn Calling," with a certain urgency which adds to the jazz-rock ambience Bollenback provides. "Open Doors," with its shifting rhythmic feel, closes things out. All the compositions are original, by the way.
There was, of course, nothing laid back about the Texas Tenors. Maybe, in just that way, Killian does fit right on this very appealing and dynamic recording.
FOR THE LOVE OF JAZZ
All About Jazz has been a pillar of jazz since 1995, championing it as an art form and, more importantly, supporting the musicians who create it. Our enduring commitment has made "AAJ" one of the most culturally important websites of its kind, read by hundreds of thousands of fans, musicians and industry figures every month.
WE NEED YOUR HELP
To expand our coverage even further and develop new means to foster jazz discovery and connectivity we need your help. You can become a sustaining member for a modest $20 and in return, we'll immediately hide those pesky ads plus provide access to future articles
for a full year. This winning combination will vastly improve your AAJ experience and allow us to vigorously build on the pioneering work we first started in 1995. So enjoy an ad-free AAJ experience and help us remain a positive beacon for jazz by making a donation today