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Jeff Denson Quartet: Concentric Circles

Jerome Wilson By

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The immediate standout feature of Jeff Denson's group is that he uses a bassoon as the reed instrument. That gives an interesting twist to the quartet's sound.

Denson's compositions are a free-ranging mix of fast-paced progressive jazz and pretty ballads. The nimble, woody tone of Paul Hanson's bassoon gives an intellectual feel to the shifting tempos of pieces like "City Life" and "Look Before You Leap" that suggests the quirky music of old Canterbury Sound jazz-rock bands like Hatfield and the North but his work on "Wishing Well" and "21st Century Blues" proves he can play with a bit of soul as well.

"A Thought That Lingers" and "Time Waits for No One" are attractive ballads that feature Denson's bowed bass prominently alongside Dan Zemelman's sensitive piano. On "Once The Door Opens" the leader sings wordlessly over a lush romantic melody traced out by the piano and bassoon and "Wishing Well" is a full blown pop tune that Denson sings earnestly in a attractive light tenor voice.

There are also more conventional jazz sounds. "Circle" is a charging up-tempo piece with hard swinging piano and "21st Century Blues" has drummer Alan Hall 99 beating out a funky New Orleans based groove for the other musicians to dance over. Denson in particular gets deep into the pocket here and the entire CD closes with a sensitive solo arco bass rendition of Duke Ellington's "I Got It Bad."

Jeff Denson's original-sounding compositions would make this CD stand out in any circumstance but the use of a bassoon makes it even more unique.

Track Listing: City Life on Trains; Anticipation; A Thought That Lingers; Wishing Well; Look Before You Leap; Time Waits for No One; 21st Century Blues; Once the Door Opens; Circle; I Got It Bad.

Personnel: Jeff Denson: double bass, vocals; Paul Hanson: bassoon; Dan Zemelman: piano; Alan Hall: drums.

Title: Concentric Circles | Year Released: 2016 | Record Label: Ridgeway Records

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