Way North: Fearless And Kind

Dan McClenaghan By

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This roots jazz band is called Way North, presumably for their home base in Toronto. But a spin of their second recording, Fearless and Kind, says they could have tagged the quartet Way South, especially considering the opening tune, "Boll Weevil," and the two-part "Jelly Roll Morton Medley." Their music has a sort of Ornette Coleman vibe, if that free jazz pioneer/alto saxophonist had come out of New Orleans instead of Fort Worth, Texas. Part of that comes from the "two horn quartet minus a chording instrument" line-up; part of it comes from the freewheeling, joie de vivre attitude of the group.

That said, Way North's trumpeter Rebecca Hennessy and tenor saxophonist Petr Cancura sound nothing like trumpeter Don Cherry and Coleman. They've got their own style of give and take going, their own exuberant unison work riding energetic rhythms.

"Boll Weevil," written by saxophonist Cancura, is a "let the good time roll" romp, with Hennessy and her horn mate weaving their lines around a vibrant "Mississippi beat." Hennessy's "Lagoon"—reprised from the outstanding 2017 outing, Rebecca Hennessy's Fog Brass Band's Two Calls (Self Produced)—pulls the sound back into a relaxed, southern summer groove.

"Act I: Billy Bolden's Blues," (Part 1 of the Jelly Roll Morton Suite), sounds funereal, leading into "Act II: King Porter Stomp," with its jubilant, devil-may-care attitude and "lean back and let it rip horn work."

Fearless and Kind is all about a celebration of sound, with a rapturous elasticity on the up-tempo tunes, and a hearteningly ruminative heft on the more languid moments. It's like a band standing on a street corner in the French Quarter, giving it their all.

Track Listing: Boll Weevil; Lagoon; Airport To Knowhere; Buddy Bolden's Blues; King Porter Stomp; Inchworms; You Know A Song; Ready Or Not; Birds For Free; Fearless And Kind; The River's Flow.

Personnel: Rebecca Hennessy: trumpet; Petr Cancura: tenor saxophone; Michael Herring: bass; Richie Barshay: drums.

Title: Fearless And Kind | Year Released: 2018 | Record Label: Self Produced

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