Learn How

We need your help in 2018

Support All About Jazz All About Jazz is looking for readers to help fund our 2018 projects that directly support jazz. You can make this happen by purchasing ad space or by making a donation to our fund drive. In addition to completing every project (listed here), we'll also hide all Google ads and present exclusive content for a full year!

99

Brandon Wright: Journeyman

Bruce Lindsay By

Sign in to view read count
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.

Title: Journeyman | Year Released: 2012 | Record Label: Posi-Tone Records

Tags

Related Video

comments powered by Disqus

CD/LP/Track Review
Read more articles

More Articles

Read Satoko Fujii Solo CD/LP/Track Review Satoko Fujii Solo
by Karl Ackermann
Published: January 17, 2018
Read when the shade is stretched CD/LP/Track Review when the shade is stretched
by Mark Sullivan
Published: January 17, 2018
Read The Influencing Machine CD/LP/Track Review The Influencing Machine
by Roger Farbey
Published: January 17, 2018
Read Presence CD/LP/Track Review Presence
by Geannine Reid
Published: January 17, 2018
Read Flaneur CD/LP/Track Review Flaneur
by Jakob Baekgaard
Published: January 16, 2018
Read D'Agala CD/LP/Track Review D'Agala
by Troy Dostert
Published: January 16, 2018
Read "Harmonies" CD/LP/Track Review Harmonies
by Glenn Astarita
Published: May 10, 2017
Read "Organ Monk Blue" CD/LP/Track Review Organ Monk Blue
by Hrayr Attarian
Published: December 30, 2017
Read "Zentuary" CD/LP/Track Review Zentuary
by Chris M. Slawecki
Published: June 5, 2017
Read "Evidence - Music of Thelonious Monk" CD/LP/Track Review Evidence - Music of Thelonious Monk
by Patrick Burnette
Published: November 27, 2017
Read "Old Songs" CD/LP/Track Review Old Songs
by Geno Thackara
Published: November 5, 2017
Read "E.S.T. Symphony" CD/LP/Track Review E.S.T. Symphony
by Karl Ackermann
Published: February 22, 2017