Forward is a magical sonic journey charted by reeds and woodwinds master, Brian Landrus and explores the tonal depths of the ocean of sound that fewer saxophonists seem to traverse these days. Landrus plays baritone saxophone and bass clarinet on this adventure in sound, as well as alto flute, all of which makes for a breathtaking palette of colors when he is done. Landrus is a poet who has a mastery of tone, something he explores with gravity and a very gentle swing. His voice is singular, just a tad tremulous as he expels hot breath from deep within his guts, dallying over choice notes in a phrase. Landrus rushes arpeggio-like through other notes as he makes them shimmer and ripple in line after line. Sometimes he murmurs low down inviting his bassist and drummer to join him as he creates an orchestral kind of pedal point to propel the rest of the tune.
On this magnificent set, Landrus is joined by Harald Genzmer on tenor saxophone, Allan Chase on alto saxophone and Jason Palmer on trumpet. This trio enables Landrus to polish the melodies of his songs until they have a burnished glow to them. Pianist Michael Cain shimmers just below the surface, animating the harmony with ingenuity; on Thelonious Monk's plaintive "Ask Me Now," he adds a minimal but exquisite solo, which breathes as it darts and probes the expanding boundaries of the song. Bassist John Lockwood sways and punctuates the melody with harmonic grandeur. Drummer Bob Moses expounds his wizardry time and time again throughout the set, especially in his superlative brushwork on the Monk chart. Percussionist Tupac Mantilla provides the added color.
Landrus displays an epic narrative style of writing here, often accompanying the sonic tapestry with visual elements traced out of dense clouds of sound and color. On "The Stream," the power and fluid movement of a source of a larger river is captured in a frieze and then released as it charges over silt and stone, ever onward. "Shadows" navigates its way constantly through dark and light as Landrus' crepuscular introductory statements brighten. Then Michael Cain cracks open the sky to reveal a tableau of dancing shadows when the bass clarinet returns with arco bass and thundering percussion. "To Love and Grow" is a svelte ballad that swaggers sensuously in and around the alto flute, punctuated by Moses' brushes and the tinkling of Mantilla's bells, shells and sundry gourds. And so on, from one graphic beauty of a track to another, until the set reachesliterallyits "Destination," another choppy number led by the percussionists.
Brian Landrus is a voice to watch out for as he charts a creative course in contemporary music. What sets him apart is the lyricism of his compositions and his ability to tell interesting, vividly illustrated stories. This album serves as a happy omen of what should surely follow in the near future as Landrus' star begins to rise ever so majestically.
Track Listing: Ask Me Now; The Stream; Shadows; To Love and Grow; Classification; Forward; Beauty of Change; Interpretations; Destination.
Personnel: Brian Landrus: baritone saxophone; bass clarinet, alto flute; George Garzone: tenor saxophone; Allan Chase: alto saxophone; Jason Palmer: trumpet; Michael Cain: piano; John Lockwood: bass; Rakalam Bob Moses: drum set, percussion; Tupac Mantilla: percussion.
I was first exposed to jazz circa 1973, when I met a fellow who ran Kappy's Record Store over near 10th Ave., on 42nd St. in NYC. We really clicked and when I told him I played piano and went to Music & Art HS, and had just started at City College of NY as a music major, he asked if I liked jazz...I said yes but I didn't know much about it, but that I did have sheet music for many popular 1920's through 1940's tunes by noted composers (Porter; Gershwins; Irving Berlin; Rodgers & Hammerstein/Hart; Jerome Kern; Lerner & Loewe; etc.) that my mother had sung beautifully starting in the 1940's including tons of famous show tunes, and I played many of those songs already
I was first exposed to jazz circa 1973, when I met a fellow who ran Kappy's Record Store over near 10th Ave., on 42nd St. in NYC. We really clicked and when I told him I played piano and went to Music & Art HS, and had just started at City College of NY as a music major, he asked if I liked jazz...I said yes but I didn't know much about it, but that I did have sheet music for many popular 1920's through 1940's tunes by noted composers (Porter; Gershwins; Irving Berlin; Rodgers & Hammerstein/Hart; Jerome Kern; Lerner & Loewe; etc.) that my mother had sung beautifully starting in the 1940's including tons of famous show tunes, and I played many of those songs already. SOOOO... he started me off LP's by Oscar Peterson, Art Tatum, Bud Powell, Errol Garner, Bill Evans, Monty Alexander, Charlie Byrd, and Dave Brubeck... does it get any better than that? ...No, it doesn't. I was hooked!!
I met and had a master class with the late music giant John Lewis, leader of the Modern Jazz Quartet! This was at CCNY in 1977. I was blessed! It was an incredible class... how could it have been anything else?!?!
The first jazz record I bought was...I bought numerous records from my friend at the record store, as mentioned above. He introduced me to nothing but music giants/legends! I think The Dave Brubeck Quartet, Greatest Hits, was actually the first one.
My advice to new listeners... study first--understand the rudiments--solfeggio, keys, scales, and basic chords. Read a book or take a class that includes the study of chord progressions, especially in jazz. It should ideally be a piano class so you can play multiple notes together. Have a good EAR or else it's not really worth it in my view...to become a musician, a good EAR for music is about as fundamental as breathing! Learn to read chord charts--i.e., lead sheets - wherein you play various voicings of the chords--major, minor, dominant 7th (alterations of these, you can learn over time - the basic chords are most important for starters), plus the melody, on the piano or keyboard. If you have to read the exact notes, then it's not the same as actually internalizing it & getting it all into your head. If you can do this, I think you're ready not only for listening to jazz, but understanding many concepts of it! Of course...anyone can listen to jazz... but I think it's so good to also have a grasp of it.