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Justin Janer: Following Signs

Mark Corroto By

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If jazz radio had a hit singles chart, then "Bright New Day" from alto saxophonist Justin Janer's debut album, Following Signs, would be climbing towards number one with a bullet. The infectious opening track, penned by Janer, is a honeyed melody that ladles mellowed bop over a gorgeous harmony. Janer's saxophone is braided with trumpet sensation Ambrose Akinmusire's horn to form music that is, indeed, infectiously easy on the ears.

This majestic session by the 25 year-old West Coast altoist is full of his original work. Not directly inspired by his Puerto Rican heritage, the music and accompaniment by Cuban Born pianist Fabian Almazon has an assured sprezzatura (nonchalance), making the music appear effortless. Paired with Akinmusire or, on one track only, guitarist Sebastian Cruz, Janer thrills—trading solid runs of thoughts though improvised, and keeping the melody central to each song.

Janer pairs down the band to just a trio for the off-centered blues of "Loss." His plaintive alto carries the melody with minimum backing. Although young, his sound is quite mature. The disc ends with two burners, the African-rhythms of "California Sky," with a nod towards a joyous percussive sound, and "Bump," a complex and challenging piece that begins calmly, before some dare-devilish outside flights by Janer and Akinmusire.

Ah, the possibilities.


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


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