279

Shawn Maxwell Quartet: Maxwell's House

Matthew Warnock By

Sign in to view read count
Shawn Maxwell Quartet: Maxwell's House Maxwell's House is a hard-swinging, deep in the pocket release by Chicago- based alto saxophonist Shawn Maxwell. The maturity displayed by all four musicians on the album is both refreshing and exciting. Instead of building energy and interest with long-streams of notes, Maxwell and pianist Matt Nelson favor shorter lines, longer-held notes and a strong focus on tone to draw in their audience. There is a solid sense of groove and swing across the quartet and the laid-back nature of the soloists sets the focus on tone, something that these players have in spades.

All of the tunes on Maxwell's House were written by the young saxophonist, with the exception of "If Only," which was co-written by Nelson and Matt Nischan. Though the tunes tend to stick closely to the medium tempo range, the quartet is able to create stimulating music through the application of various grooves, feels and time signatures. One of the albums highlights is the ballad "Five." Set in a slow, 5/4, time signature, the quartet explores myriad possibilities of the odd time feel. Branching out from the standard 3+2 or 2+3 groupings, which 5/4 often implies at faster tempos, Maxwell and company do their best to disguise the odd time feel, while at the same time bringing out nuances that are often unexplored at faster tempos.

As soloists, all four musicians bring a unique approach to the modern jazz vernacular of the album's different grooves and harmonies. Of note is Nelson, who is never less than stellar throughout. His solo on the opening title track is one of the album's highlights; weaving his way through bop, West- Coast cool and New York modern, Nelson's effective use of space and his instrument's range brings to mind the work of some of the piano's finest performers, including Bill Evans, Lennie Tristano and Wynton Kelly .

Not to be outdone, Maxwell is in fine form across the board. Drawing inspiration from the great alto saxophonist Kenny Garrett, Maxwell's tone and sense of time are captivating. Tending to focus on melody rather than chops or complex harmonic ideas, his lines mix creativity with intellect in a manner that is both engaging and intellectually challenging.

Maxwell's House is a solid release by this Windy City quartet. Strong compositions, a deep sense of time feel and an emphasis on melody all come together to produce and album that would be expected from musicians twice their age, an accomplishment that should create pride in the performers and enjoyment in their audience.

Track Listing: Maxwell's House; Shuffled; Five; Jathor; Ava; If Only; Welcome; Sector 7-G; Different Colors of Cool; Dangerous Curve.

Personnel: Shawn Maxwell: alto saxophone; Matt Nelson: piano; Kevin Martinez: double-bass; Brandon Dickert: drums.

Year Released: 2009 | Record Label: Chicago Sessions | Style: Modern Jazz


Related Video

Shop

More Articles

Read Nightfall CD/LP/Track Review Nightfall
by John Kelman
Published: May 22, 2017
Read Pekka CD/LP/Track Review Pekka
by Roger Farbey
Published: May 22, 2017
Read In the Still of the Night CD/LP/Track Review In the Still of the Night
by Nicholas F. Mondello
Published: May 22, 2017
Read Zea CD/LP/Track Review Zea
by Glenn Astarita
Published: May 22, 2017
Read Asian Fields Variations CD/LP/Track Review Asian Fields Variations
by John Kelman
Published: May 21, 2017
Read Left Right Left CD/LP/Track Review Left Right Left
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: May 21, 2017
Read "Heritage" CD/LP/Track Review Heritage
by James Nadal
Published: October 3, 2016
Read "In Love With" CD/LP/Track Review In Love With
by Eyal Hareuveni
Published: July 25, 2016
Read "The Final Concert" CD/LP/Track Review The Final Concert
by John Sharpe
Published: February 19, 2017
Read "The Wild" CD/LP/Track Review The Wild
by Jerome Wilson
Published: March 15, 2017
Read "Colors for the Masters" CD/LP/Track Review Colors for the Masters
by C. Andrew Hovan
Published: August 6, 2016
Read "The Core Trio Live, featuring Matthew Shipp" CD/LP/Track Review The Core Trio Live, featuring Matthew Shipp
by Karl Ackermann
Published: October 20, 2016

Post a comment

comments powered by Disqus

Why wait?

Support All About Jazz and we'll deliver exclusive content, hide ads, and provide read access to our future articles.