The fact that guitarist Samo Salamon continues to surround himself with some of the brightest players in jazz is an inkling into his abilities as a performer and leader. To name a few: Drew Gress, Tyshawn Sorey, Gerald Cleaver, Luciano Biondini, and David Binney have appeared on Salamon's recordings ranging from edgy, jazz-rock and cerebral melodies. Salamon continues his prolific foray on this joint effort with fellow Slovenian, drummer Aljosa Jeric, with bassist Matt Brewer and featured saxophonist Mark Turner.
The music on Mamasaal feat. Mark Turner might be considered somewhat of a departure from Salamon's previous recordings with its mellowed quartet themes in contrast to outer-rimed explorations like Kei's Secret (Splasc(H) Records, 2006) and Government Cheese (Fresh Sound, 2007). But with musicians of this caliber delivering first-rate playing, it is still quite enjoyable.
The inclusion of Mark Turner is important; a saxophonist who has performed with Kurt Rosenwinkel, Billy Hart and many others, he is one of best young tenors around. His quiet dominance is heard throughout, marked by a sinuous fluid voicing and impressive control. The rhythm section is vigorous; Brewer, a rising young bassist who has played with Greg Osby and John Escreet, is a sure foundation, while Jeric adds flourishing traps as well as four compositions including the kinetic opener "Flying Serpents," where Brewer offers a confident solo followed by Turner's aerial acrobatics.
Salamon flexes his own muscles on "High Heels," a mid-tempo piece with trademarked playing marked by Turner and Jeric's distinct statements within the twisting melody. While the chord progressions of "Internal Affairs" and "Elephants On Holidays" are softer and more standard-like melodies, it's the 10-plus minute "Happy Girl" that shows the guitarist's truer skin, with multi-threaded complexity and deconstruction, brilliantly executed by all. The quartet's swansong, "The Shy One," is fitting to the recording's overall toneboth thoughtful and thought-provoking.
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