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IRIS is a self-titled debut, encapsulating the vibrant spirit of Chicago's jazz scene. The ensemble, composed of Arman Sangalang (tenor saxophone), Kirby Fellis (trombone), Austyn Menk (piano), Morgan Turner (bass) and Paul Barrilles (drums and cymbals), marries the rich traditions of hard bop and post-bop with a fresh, contemporary outlook.

The album opens with "Easy Does It," a piece by Sangalang inspired by a new music venue in Chicago, setting a tone of camaraderie and spirited interplay with an easy-going gait. Yet pianist Austyn Menk generates high heat with a swiftly executed bop-like solo as the hornists expand the primary theme with torrential gusts during the bridge.

"Contemplation" is another Sangalang composition, offering a meditative storyline juxtaposed with a journey through evolving harmonic landscapes. The band fuses soft pulses with sustained emotive characteristics and raises the pitch in spots, although the pianist closes it out with barely a whisper.

In a nod to their roots, IRIS concludes the album with vibrant renditions of jazz standards, including a lively take on "The Sunny Side of The Street" and a fast-paced rendition of "The Challenge" by Roy Hargrove. Through these interpretations, they pay homage to the past while brazenly stepping forward with a distinct sound. Hence, each track is a dialogue, a shared journey through the myriad facets of jazz, driven by a collective whose members shine both as soloists and as part of a tight-knit ensemble.

In the album liners, guitar legend Bobby Broom asserts that IRIS's sound is "achieved by the joined forces of its distinct and attractive, individual voices," which rings true throughout the album. It is a debut that not only celebrates the individual achievements and styles of its members but also their unified vision as a group. The band promises what is to come from Chicago's next generation of jazz musicians—a mosaic of the old and the new, the contemplative and the jubilant, the personal and the universal. This album is not just a listen; it is an experience, inviting one into the inner worlds of its creators with a sonic kaleidoscope that invites the listener to peer through its lens and discover new hues.

Track Listing

Easy Does It; Cece and the Rabbit; Contemplation; Fragment Fracture; If Only For A Moment; February 4th; On The Sunny Side Of The Street; The Challenge.


Arman Sangalang
saxophone, tenor
Kirby Fellis
Morgan Turner
bass, acoustic

Album information

Title: IRIS | Year Released: 2024 | Record Label: Shifting Paradigm Records



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