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Thorsen grafts his ideas convincingly onto the classic tunes. He pays homage at the head, and then takes the body in his own ambit without sacrificing flavor. He works mostly in a quartet format, with pianists Josh Nelson and Geoffrey Keezer trading roles throughout. "Dexterity" is fed on a bop beat before Gilbert Castellanos swings in on trumpet, an enticing change, extended by Nelson's well-defined ideas. Thorsen, a supple bassist, adds to the final elastic impulse.
Keezer is an eloquent pianist who brings his marked presence to the five tracks on which he appears. "Giant Steps" serves to profile his vantage approach, flush with ideas that roll out with enough pause and space for interlocution.
Thorsen's compositions were inspired by the sounds and sights of Costa Rica. A soft Latin swish and singing bass line introduce "Cigarones," which continues to float majestically on John Rekovics' alto flute. The piano, bassoon and flugelhorn cast filigrees of sound into the mix, achieving an ethereal cohesion. "Dance of the Freaky Circles" opens the door to greater improvisation. The tempo is unsettled but assured, as each musician takes the road that beckons him best. Sinuous lines are bedfellows with cavorting ones, joy nestles against melancholy. And it all works to give Thorsen the presence he seeks.
Track Listing: Dexterity; Giant Steps; Little Melonae; Smile; Milagro Café; The Man I Love; Dance of the Freaky Circles; Cigarones; It
Personnel: Rob Thorsen: bass; Geoffrey Keezer: piano (3, 4, 6-8); Josh Nelson: piano (1, 2, 5, 9); Gilbert Castellanos: trumpet, flugelhorn (1, 3, 5, 7, 8); Ben Wendel: tenor saxophone: (3, 5, 7, 9), bassoon (8); Duncan Moore: drums; Charlie Chavez: congas (6); John Rekovics: alto flute (8).
Years ago now--in Rhodesia--listening to Voice of America with Willis Conover I heard Bunk Johnson play When The Saints Go Marching In, and Billie Holiday sing Don't Explain. I knew then there was no other life for me than jazz.