Daniel Gassin's third album ventures into new territory, leaving behind the intimacy of the trio format which has been Australian pianist's preferred musical setting until now. Daniel Gassin Sextet features ten original pieces of modern jazz performed by a standard rhythm section, with a small horn section of trumpets and saxophones, to produce a superb, light ensemble sound. While the performance of the players is always contributes to the caliber of the project, it is Gassin's compositions that make this album compelling.
The "New Song" opens up the session with a light introduction by the pianist, leading to an explosion of sounds from the group, with the horns blowing hard and heavy, followed by a blazing saxophone solo on one of the pillars of the disc. With trumpeter Pat Thiele, alto saxophonist Phil Noy and tenor saxophonist Anton Delecca, "78" starts up with a crescendo of horns, leading to Gassin taking over the music, aided by tender accompaniment from bassist Michael Story. Gassin reprises the title track to his previous release, Crossover (Vorticity, 2010), this time adding the saxophones and terrific play by drummer Craig Simon in an ambitious ten-minute romp where the pianist has plenty of space to demonstrate his appreciable chops.
Gassin shares a brief duet with percussionist Felipe Cornejo on the two-minute "Interlude," while performing a solo on the other brief vignette, "McDaniel Avenue." Trumpeter Cam McAllister provides the arrangement for the melodic "Roundtrip," one of the disc's standout pieces, with brisk moments from various members of the band. Co-written with Simon, "What You Get Is What You Get" is a swinging affair containing solos that light up the music. The finale tune features McAllister on flugelhorn, Simon on brushes and Gassin on light chords, closing out a special session of jazz with the lightest touch of the disc.
Whether performing in a trio format or expanding the band, Daniel Gassin is a marvelous pianist and an exciting composer. The Daniel Gassin Sextet is a truly engaging recording from down under, one that should provide a returning boomerang of praise for this impressive talent.
Track Listing: New Song; Banff Song; Interlude; 78; Crossover; Y-Tune; McDaniel Avenue; Roundtrip; What You Get Is What You Get; San Jose.
Personnel: Daniel Gassin: piano; Cam McAllister: trumpet, flugelhorn (5, 9, 10); Pat Thiele: trumpet (1, 2, 4, 6, 8); Phil Noy: alto saxophone; Anton Delecca: tenor saxophone, flute; Michael Story: double-bass; Craig Simon: drums; Felipe Cornejo: percussion (3, 6).
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