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Jun Iida: Evergreen


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Jun Iida: Evergreen
Evergreen from trumpeter/flugelhornist Jun Iida is a textural panorama of multi-cultural jazz flavors, offering original and known fare. Each of the ten tracks is a portrait, and they display fine solo and ensemble playing. To describe Evergreen in one word is to call it "intriguing."

"Gooey Butter Cake," one of six originals from Iida, opens things in a jovial, hippity-hop, New Orleans-esque groove which develops into a trumpet-bass solo ride, with solos following from pianist Josh Nelson and guitarist Masami Kuroki, finishing up with vocalist Aubrey Johnson's unison scatting melody with Iida. "Akatombo" is a slower vocal, featuring Johnson singing the Japanese children's tune over Nelson's piano. The title track, "Evergreen" is a melodic grabber, with Iida and a unisoned Johnson laying down the melody before the trumpeter takes off on a well-spun ride and the track builds to an exciting climax.

Iida's trumpet delivers a lush, mellow tone. His improvisations are thoughtfully presented, surprisingly inventive, and highly inflected with ornamentations both classic jazz and Japanese-inflected elements. He swings in a style which is totally unique. Johnson's voice is a gymnastic feast; her unison scatting is dead-on pitch, and adds shimmer to accompanying horn lines. The rhythm section of Josh Nelson, guitarist Masami Huroki, bassist Jonathan Richards. and drummer Xavier Lecouturier is highly engaged and supportive throughout the date.

The infrequently recorded Elmo Hope & Sonny Rollins bop tune "Bellarosa" is a marvelous and slyly subtle salute to Clifford Brown, who brought the joyous tune to the forefront in the '50s. Iida and Johnson cover the tune in unison. Guitarist Masami Kuroki launches the solo parade before Iida puts on his beret-clad best and Nelson goes forth. A favorite ballad among jazz artists, the "Love Theme from Spartacus" has Iida's luscious horn deeply moving. The presentation here is sublime with Nelson fluttering, a perfect partner. This and the subsequent "Song for Luke" are balladic highlights. The lovely melody of "Holding on to Autumn," with Johnson and Iida shining in melodic play, concludes the session.

Evergreen is a texturally-varied debut album from Iida and his exceptional musicians. It is colorful and, at times, enchanting, stimulating both ear and mind.

Track Listing

Gooey Butter Cake; Akatombo; Evergreen; Shiki no Uta; Bellarosa; Forgotten Memories; Love Theme from Spartacus; My Anguish in Solidarity; Song for Luke; Holding On to Autumn.


Album information

Title: Evergreen | Year Released: 2023 | Record Label: OA2 Records

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