99

Brandon Wright: Journeyman

Bruce Lindsay By

Sign in to view read count
Brandon Wright: Journeyman Beware of album titles that seem to damn with faint praise. Although saxophonist Brandon Wright takes inspiration for the title of his second album from the words of novelist Cormac McCarthy, Journeyman is a term that usually conjures up an image of a reliable, hard-working, solid but uninspiring type of person. All admirable qualities, of course, but hardly earth shattering or applicable to the playing talent of the New York based musician. It's clear from Wright's opening phrase on "Shapeshifter" that he's much, much, more than a reliable worker.

Wright's playing is strong, fluid and melodic from the start. His long, flowing tenor lines are a pleasure to hear. His debut, Boiling Point (Posi-Tone, 2010), featured trumpeter Alex Sipiagin alongside Wright. On Journeyman, Wright is out front on his own, but he shoulders the extra sonic responsibility with verve and confidence.

"Shapeshifter" establishes not only Wright's chops, but also the strength of the rhythm section. Donald Edwards' driving percussion gives the entire quartet an energy and dynamism. Boris Kozlov's bass stays low in the mix but matches Edwards' swing and power. Pianist David Kikoski—who also appears on Boiling Point—combines stabbing, rich, left-hand chords with intricate single note runs.

Wright's original compositions are engaging. His description of "Walk Of Shame" as a "funky blues" sums it up neatly: straightforward, immediate and fun. "Illusions Of Light" shows that he can also write a soulful ballad—and deliver an equally soulful saxophone part—while the more aggressive hard bop of "Big Bully" finds Wright and Kikoski producing excellent up-tempo solos underpinned by Koslov and Edwards' rock solid, driving rhythm.

Boiling Point featured Wright's take on the Stone Temple Pilots' rock classic "Interstate Love Song." On Journeyman, he follows with interpretations of two other rock tunes. Oasis' Brit Pop standard, "Wonderwall," gets a swinging, straight-ahead treatment though the original song leant so much on the vocal that an instrumental version lacks a clear focus despite Wright's tense, upper-register solo. Pearl Jam's "Better Man," written by Eddie Vedder, proves to be a more inspired choice. Wright takes the original's slightly bitter tone and replaces it with a more regretful mood, established by Kikoski's piano as well as his own tenor saxophone.

A lack of familiarity with McCarthy's romanticized image might just make some fans wonder whether this album is worth exploring. That would be a mistake. Wright is an imaginative and hard-blowing saxophonist and a creative composer. This Journeyman inspires, and more.


Track Listing: Shapeshifter; Better Man; Walk Of Shame; Illusions Of Light; Big Bully; Choices; Search For Truth; Wonderwall; The Nearness Of You; He'll Make Me Happy.

Personnel: Brandon Wright: tenor saxophone; David Kikoski: piano; Boris Kozlov: bass; Donald Edwards: drums.

Year Released: 2012 | Record Label: Posi-Tone Records | Style: Modern Jazz


Related Video

Shop

CD/LP/Track Review
Read more articles
Miles Davis Miles Davis
trumpet
John Coltrane John Coltrane
saxophone
Sonny Rollins Sonny Rollins
saxophone
Kenny Garrett Kenny Garrett
sax, alto
Freddie Hubbard Freddie Hubbard
trumpet
Joe Lovano Joe Lovano
saxophone
Ron Carter Ron Carter
bass
Sonny Stitt Sonny Stitt
saxophone
Joshua Redman Joshua Redman
saxophone
Johnny Griffin Johnny Griffin
sax, tenor

More Articles

Read Acceptance CD/LP/Track Review Acceptance
by Tyran Grillo
Published: February 26, 2017
Read The Wild CD/LP/Track Review The Wild
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: February 26, 2017
Read This Is Nate Najar CD/LP/Track Review This Is Nate Najar
by Edward Blanco
Published: February 26, 2017
Read Joy Comes Back CD/LP/Track Review Joy Comes Back
by James Nadal
Published: February 26, 2017
Read Apocalypse CD/LP/Track Review Apocalypse
by Julian Derry
Published: February 26, 2017
Read The Sound of Surprise: Live at the Side Door CD/LP/Track Review The Sound of Surprise: Live at the Side Door
by Edward Blanco
Published: February 25, 2017
Read "America's National Parks" CD/LP/Track Review America's National Parks
by John Sharpe
Published: November 11, 2016
Read "Wolf Valley" CD/LP/Track Review Wolf Valley
by Roger Farbey
Published: May 18, 2016
Read "And Now the Queen - A Tribute to Carla Bley" CD/LP/Track Review And Now the Queen - A Tribute to Carla Bley
by Karl Ackermann
Published: November 30, 2016
Read "Nine Dances Of Patrick O’Gonogon" CD/LP/Track Review Nine Dances Of Patrick O’Gonogon
by Duncan Heining
Published: November 25, 2016
Read "Quartet 1991" CD/LP/Track Review Quartet 1991
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: April 9, 2016
Read "Odil - Something" CD/LP/Track Review Odil - Something
by Geno Thackara
Published: July 27, 2016

Post a comment

comments powered by Disqus

Sponsor: ECM Records | BUY NOW  

Support our sponsor

Support All About Jazz's Future

We need your help and we have a deal. Contribute $20 and we'll hide the six Google ads that appear on every page for a full year!

Buy it!