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Jonathan Finlayson & Sicilian Defense: Moment & The Message

Glenn Astarita By

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Jonathan Finlayson & Sicilian Defense: Moment & The Message Trumpeter Jonathan Finlayson communicates a vibrantly rhythmic platform on Moment & The Message. His resume includes work with alto saxophone luminaries Steve Coleman and Steve Lehman; the album opener "Circus" is stylistically framed on pioneering woodwind legend Henry Threadgill's geometrically patterned compositions. But Finlayson rests on his own laurels with this debut solo effort. The set is highlighted by snappy detours, brisk arrangements, zigzagging pulses, and nimble interludes that offset the darting and impactful dialogues between the soloists.

Similar in scope to the looseness exhibited by Coleman's M-Base output, Finlayson's music expands and contracts, serving as an outline that encompasses difficult time signatures amid an open-air approach to jazz improvisation, partly due to pianist David Virelles' fluid solo spots. The band whirls though precise unison choruses, fronted by the leader's razor-sharp lines and paradigm shifts. Throughout, Finlayson's densely populated harmonic layers spark a manifold viewpoint; whether the band takes a left turn, stays on course, or slants to the right, the sum-of-the-parts radiates the trumpeter's beguiling mindset.

"Tensegrity" is a noteworthy work, commencing with guitarist Miles Okazaki's genial acoustic voicings and differentiated by Finlayson's festive phrasings, subliminally tinted with shades of Spanish bravura, even though the piece touches on the classical element. As a soloist, Finlayson employs classic, bop-like spacing. He breathes fire, but displays finely honed command and control techniques while making every note count.

Backed by a talented support system, "Sicilian Defense" is named after a chess opening move. And true to form, the album's abundant nooks and odd-metered beats may be analogous to the positioning advantages and maneuver of a strategic chess match.


Track Listing: Circus; Lo Haze; Ruy Lopez; Carthage; Tensegrity; Le Bas-Fond; Tyre; Fives and Pennies; Scaean Gates.

Personnel: Jonathan Finlayson: trumpet; Miles Okazaki: guitar; David Virelles: piano; Keith Witty: bass; Damion Reed: drums.

Year Released: 2013 | Record Label: Pi Recordings


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