It is one thing for an aspiring musician to debut his album with talented veterans but quite another for him to create such an accomplished work as found in New York pianist/composer Enoch Lee's Finish Line. It breathes originality and purpose not only for the contributions from stalwarts that include saxophonist David Binney and bassist Drew Gress but also because of Lee's stellar chartsthought-provoking compositions and engaging melodies which inspire killing performances from the aforementioned veterans and rising stars guitarist Nir Felder and drummer Nate Smith.
Jazz is only part of the equation here as the set unfolds like a story arc where each composition builds the narrative. The opener "Remember The End" sets the tone powered by Smith's funky back beat as the band settles into a tight groove. "In The Battle" has a decisive indie-rock vibe with twisting harmonies and scorching solos from Binney and Lee doubling on piano and keyboards whereas "Too Cold" is an introspective dialog with classical music and improvisation elements highlighting the rapport between bassist and pianist which began when Gress taught instructed Lee at New York University.
Lee's proclivity for songlike tunes is evident in "Still Awaiting" and "Think Carefully" lyrical and colored with graceful movements also heard in the his original composition "Peace" which incorporates sampled sounds of war and civil unrest to convey a deeper meaning. There's no hidden message in the music but what is obvious is the positivity of the entire set. Other favorites include the groovy "Circling" with Felder delivering a catchy psychedelic guitar vamp and Binney's searing alto while Smith pumps the rhythm. The tune has that Sunday afternoon-at-the-park air suggesting the circuitous pattern of life's ebbs and flows.
Finish Line took flight when Lee created a sample of the music using software instruments and reached out to each musician asking if they would be interested in joining him for the project. The results are quite rewarding, heard in the memorable and thoughtful music from a gifted pianist and composer.
Remember The End (Intro); In The Battle; Circling; Blur; Too Cold; Still Waiting; Think Carefully;
Bravery; Peace; Coming Back; Another Beginning (Outro).
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