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Kerry Politzer Quartet: Labyrinth

Ken Franckling By

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Over the past few years, New England Conservatory graduate Kerry Politzer has emerged as one of the more interesting younger composers on the New York jazz scene. She leads a modern jazz trio and a Brazilian repertoire quartet to showcase her compositions. Labyrinth is her third release since 1999 and it draws from the best of those intersecting worlds: modern jazz with a Brazilian undercurrent. It's all original, often multi-layered material.

Politzer is joined on this session by Andrew Rathbun on saxophones, Chris Higgins on bass, and her husband, George Colligan—better known as a pianist—on drums. "Rhodes Rage is an up-tempo samba on which Andrew Rathbun's tenor sets the burning pace for Politzer's keyboard pyrotechnics that follow.

"Paloma is a breezy bossa nova with much nuance, yet the band is never far from the fire that the opening track established. It features Rathbun on soprano sax, with Politzer and company right with him in a dialogue that feels like more than mere comping; in fact, it seamlessly launches her intense and sparkling solo. "The End? is a piano trio showcase for the composer/pianist's introspective side. It also reveals Colligan's fine range and touch on the drums. "Hya also features Rathbun on soprano and is more straight-ahead, straddling the line between a ballad and a moderately up-tempo feel.

"After the Smoke, Memories is a piano-dominated trio piece that artfully translates emotions rooted in the 9/11 tragedy into music. Sadness gives way to memories and hope. The multi-layered "Propulsion brings an up-tempo mood shift to the session, and the aptly named title track is filled with musical twists and turns that lead into a Politzer solo which turns the simmering heat into a boil.

The session winds down with two more trio pieces with an intensity and musical imagery that befits their titles, as well as a brief piano solo called "And Away We Go.... "Super Ball, for one, brings back memories as a kid of having one of those hard rubber spheres that bounced around the room as if on steroids. Keep an eye—and both ears—on Kerry Politzer, a composer and player who's already well-formed and gaining momentum.

Visit Kerry Politzer on the web.


Track Listing: Rhodes Rage; Paloma; The End?; Hya; After the Smoke, Memories; Propulsion; Labyrinth; Falling Through the Cracks; Super Ball; And Away We Go....

Personnel: Kerry Politzer: piano, compositions; Andrew Rathburn: tenor and soprano saxophone; Chris Higgins: bass; George Colligan: drums.

Title: Labyrinth | Year Released: 2005 | Record Label: Polisonic

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