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Lan Xang: Hidden Gardens

C. Michael Bailey By

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Donny Again—Only Different. Hidden Gardens is the third Naxos Jazz release on which West Coast tenorist Donny McCaslin appears. He led his group on Exile and Discovery (Naxos Jazz 86014) and soloed with the Ken Schaphorst Big Band on Purple (Naxos Jazz 86030), both released in 1998. Here he appears with his sometimes group Lan Xang (founded in 1994 by McCaslin and Binney with another submission of Eastern-influenced jazz. Lan Xang released Lan Xang in 1997 on Mythology MR10971, with pianist Fred Hersch's regular drummer Jeff Hirschfield.

The present edition of Lan Xang replaces Hirschfield with Kenny Wollensen. The music remains qualitatively the same: a collection of Eastern modal mysteries skillfully played. The pieces are composed and performed as loose veils of ideas, aphorous melodies that float lightly. McCaslin and Binney provide reed power, propelled by the abbreviated rhythm section of Scott Colley and Wollesen. The pieces are all originals, the bulk being composed by the group. Like the band name implies, the music of Lan Xang is quite exotic, appealing and avant-garde. It will appeal to those listeners who prefer their jazz more free than most, but not spinning out of control.


Title: Hidden Gardens | Year Released: 2000 | Record Label: Naxos Jazz


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