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Having been prepared by Fred Bouchard's liner notes and other details about young saxophonist Jon De Lucia, my expectations were to anticipate the musician's leanings towards "the boundaries of jazz with his free use of Zen concepts and richly talented bandmates." All of this, plus other biographical information, tends to set up a new listener for a bracing session of new "outside" music. Consequently, it was quite a surprise to hear De Lucia's new album and find quite a listenable and likeable session in which his group maintains a stimulating and far more mainstream sound than these words would suggest.
Jon De Lucia is a Massachusetts musician who graduated from Berklee College of Music in 2002. His ensemble features guitarist Nir Felder, pianist/keyboardist Leo Genovese, bassist Garth Stevenson and drummer Ziv Ravitz. In addition, Sumie Kaneko plays koto and shamisen on "Edo Komoriuta." On the opening selections, De Lucia' s alto and soprano saxophone playing is intense, but kept at a low boil. The first portion of the album allows for a suite-like continuity in which the original compositions ("The Glass Bead Game," "Emptiness" and "Really") follow each other in a natural order.
The inclusion of the Japanese folk song "Edo Komoriuta" introduces the influence of Asian music. The album builds to a peak with the lengthy "The Open Eye," which is just short of ten minutes and features De Lucia' s stepped-up playing prodded by Leo Genovese's keyboards. The album then concludes with a lyrical and tender reading of the Harry Warren ballad "I Wish I Knew." I wonder if a more more natural "non-Zen" order of song sequences could have allowed this piece to have been played earlier on the session?