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Posi-Tone Records is known for showcasing nascent talent, often aligned with proven jazz warriors. With his sophomore release for the label, young tenor saxophonist Brandon Wright garners sympathetic and dynamic support from his ensemble, comprising time-honored vets, such as pianist David Kikoski and bassist Boris Kozlov. Drummer Donald Edwards transmits a holistic rhythmic stance with his acute penchant for toggling between soft and accenting accompaniment or when kicking matters into tenth gear. Possessing a big, blustery sound, Wright executes a manifold rendition of pop-rock vocalist Eddie Vedder's (Pearl Jam) "Better Man."
Wright exceeds any expectations of providing a literal jazz cover of a pop tune. Most important is that he transcends the norm via a hybrid, Latin, jazz waltz and swing composite, and works the piece through various ebbs and flows. Hs spirited attack suggests a deeply personal interpretation, touched with edgy overtones.
Wright's commanding musical presence boasts a sound that is seemingly cloaked in iron, yet tempers the proceedings with soft tonalities atop Kikoski's deft comping and lyrically resplendent solo during the bridge. At times, the saxophonist skirts the outside schema and soars with feverish aplomb towards the finale amid the pianist's lush phrasings. Wright indubitably circumvents the norm on this curiously interesting and refreshing perspective on a vestige of pop culture.
Personnel: Brandon Wright: tenor saxophone; David Kikoski: piano; Boris Kozlov: bass; Donald Edwards: drums.