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Jonathan Finlayson: Moving Still

Karl Ackermann By

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Trumpeter Jonathan Finlayson has been an in-demand sideman for a decade, laying a foundation of top-tier groundwork in recording with Steve Coleman on all of that uncompromising composer's Five Elements albums since 2002. Finlayson's performing credits include gigs with Ravi Coltrane, Steve Lehman, Mary Halvorson, Vijay Iyer, and many other notable artists. Not until 2013 did the trumpeter/composer release Moment and the Message (Pi Recordings), his first—and highly acclaimed—outing as leader of the quintet, Sicilian Defense. He returns with six new compositions on Still Moving.

Sicilian Defense, Finlayson's quintet, is the same only in name. With the exception of guitarist Miles Okazaki, the group has been reconfigured. Matt Mitchell replaces David Virelles on piano, John Herbert takes up the bass, and original drummer Damion Reid gives way to Craig Weinrib. Mitchell has been a regular member of Tim Berne's Snakeoil and has recorded frequently with Dave Douglas. Herbert worked with Andrew Hill and Fred Hersch and he has recorded two albums as part of Mary Halvorson's trio. Weinrib has recorded with Henry Threadgill's Ensemble Double Up and he is a faculty member of the New School Jazz program.

"All of the Pieces" slowly develops around the mid-tempo interchanges between Mitchell and Finlayson, but both players work toward fiery solos before the piece quietly dissolves. Weinrib's intricate solo opens "Flank and Center" and leads to a back and forth, trumpet/piano dialog in this agreeably off-kilter number. Okazaki gets his own quality solo time within "Cap vs. Nim" though the core of the piece is another blistering performance from the leader. The ten-plus minute closer, "Folk Song" wraps up Moving Still with dramatic flair as the lyrical opening from Finlayson and Mitchell turns highly expressive and moves through varying degrees of intensity.

Finlayson's compositions are deceptive in their nuanced shifts out of comfort zones. His expertise at creating atmosphere through texture and color gives each of the pieces on Moving Still a bold, energetic feel without being exaggerated. This new version of Sicilian Defense works with empathy and dexterity, leaving room for individual expression. Finlayson's treatment of the pieces, whether long of short, is constructed so as to make each compelling.

Track Listing: All Of The Pieces; Flank And Center; Space And; Cap vs. Nim; Between Moves; Folk Song.

Personnel: Jonathan Finlayson: trumpet; Miles Okazaki: guitar; Matt Mitchell: piano; John Hébert: bass; Craig Weinrib: drums.

Title: Moving Still | Year Released: 2016 | Record Label: Pi Recordings

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CD/LP/Track Review
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