226

Justin Janer: Following Signs

Bruce Lindsay By

Sign in to view read count
Following Signs, saxophonist Justin Janer's debut as leader, is an assured recording. Janer leads a tight and disciplined quintet through seven original tunes and a cover of Bob Hilliard and Sammy Fain's "Alice in Wonderland," displaying his craft and individuality as a player and composer.

Musical high spots arise from the interplay between Janer's alto and trumpeter Ambrose Akinmusire's exciting and often fierce playing. Both Janer and Akinmusire clearly enjoy working at the upper reaches of their instruments' ranges, and this leads to some vibrant exchanges. Akinmusire has an amazing ability to blow frenetic, powerful notes as if his life depended on it; his playing on the middle section of "Bump" epitomizes this approach. But their exchanges can also demonstrate a softer edge; on the opening of "Bright New Day" they play a light, almost sweet-sounding, duet.

On "Fidelity" the quintet is joined by guitarist Sebastian Cruz. His addition leads to one of the most satisfying tunes on the album, with Cruz contributing a pure-toned and precise solo. Janer also excels here, playing predominantly in the lower to mid-range of his alto, and with a warmth that can be absent from his higher register playing. "Loss" also beautifully showcases Jane, a slow and reflective piece on which he moves effortlessly across the alto's range, accompanied only by the sympathetic playing of bassist Ruben Samma and drummer Michael W Davis. The same lineup plays on "California Sky"—a stark contrast to "Loss"—with driving, urgent, rhythm and frantic alto lines.

Janer is still in his mid-20s but has already received awards for his playing, including a Latin Grammy nomination for his part in Bobby Sanabria and the Afro Cuban Jazz Orchestra's Kenya Revisited—Live (Jazzheads Records, 2009). Moving from lead alto in a big band to heading up a small group is no easy task but Janer manages the move with confidence, helped by a talented band and a strong sense of his own musical identity that comes over clearly in his playing, to make Following Signs a notable debut.

Track Listing: Bright New Day; Following Signs; Alice In Wonderland; Fidelity; Song For Suji; Loss; California Sky; Bump.

Personnel: Justin Janer: alto saxophone; Ambrose Akinmusire: trumpet; Fabian Almazan: piano; Sebastian Cruz: guitar (4); Ruben Samama: bass; Michael W. Davis: drums (2, 4, 6, 7); Will Clark: drums (1, 3, 5, 8).

Title: Following Signs | Year Released: 2010 | Record Label: Janer Music


Tags

Related Video

comments powered by Disqus

More Articles

Read The Study of Touch CD/LP/Track Review The Study of Touch
by Karl Ackermann
Published: October 20, 2017
Read Another North CD/LP/Track Review Another North
by Roger Farbey
Published: October 19, 2017
Read Gledalec CD/LP/Track Review Gledalec
by John Sharpe
Published: October 19, 2017
Read Flux Reflux CD/LP/Track Review Flux Reflux
by Glenn Astarita
Published: October 19, 2017
Read Christmas With Champian CD/LP/Track Review Christmas With Champian
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: October 19, 2017
Read Harmony of Difference CD/LP/Track Review Harmony of Difference
by Phil Barnes
Published: October 18, 2017
Read "Journey To The Mountain Of Forever" CD/LP/Track Review Journey To The Mountain Of Forever
by Bruce Lindsay
Published: June 17, 2017
Read "Beyond the Moon" CD/LP/Track Review Beyond the Moon
by Tyran Grillo
Published: August 12, 2017
Read "Lost at Last" CD/LP/Track Review Lost at Last
by Geno Thackara
Published: November 10, 2016
Read "Cool" CD/LP/Track Review Cool
by Chris M. Slawecki
Published: March 20, 2017
Read "Monte Alban" CD/LP/Track Review Monte Alban
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: November 8, 2016
Read "Live In The South Bronx" CD/LP/Track Review Live In The South Bronx
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: December 31, 2016

Join the staff. Writers Wanted!

Develop a column, write album reviews, cover live shows, or conduct interviews.