Hot jazz saxophonists sharing the stage and/or recording booth with pop artists: Wayne Shorter collaborating with Joni Mitchell; Donny McCaslin breathing fire with David Bowie; and now, Chad Lefkowitz-Brown touring the world with Taylor Swift. Onward, Lefkowitz-Brown's sophomore CD release as a leader, touches on pop music with a robust reading of Stevie Wonder's "Isn't She Lovely," showing that he, like McCaslin, can torch a pop song melody. But about half of the music of comes from the gold mine of the jazz standards/Great American Songbook realm. The rest come from the deft pen of Lefkowitz/Brown.
Tone and energy-wise, it's hard not to think of the late saxophonist Michael Brecker on the disc's opener. The young saxophonisttwenty-seven years of age at the time of this releasedisplays a fierce drive, an assured urgency and an up-from-the-gut power. This is mostly a saxophone out in front of a piano/bass/drums rhythm section affair, with trumpeter Randy Brecker two Lefkowitz-Brown originals.
John Coltrane's "Giant Steps" opens with an insouciant sax/drums interlude, leading into an intrepid yet faithful interpretation of the tune. And where "Blues For Randy," with Randy Brecker sitting in, recalls the Brecker Brothers sound, "Impetuous," a Lefkowitz-Brown original, sounds like an outtake from McCoy Tyner's classic Infinity (Impulse! Records, 1995), a disc that featured Michael Brecker sitting in with Tyner's trio.
Then the young sax man gets tender-hearted, with a gorgeous, Coleman Hawkins-esque reading of "The Nearness Of You," before he and the band give Cole Porter's "All Of You" an exhilarating, swinging modern lean.
Chad Lefkowitz-Brown: piano; Steven Feifke: piano; Raviv Markovitz: bass; Jimmy
Chad Lefkowitz-Brown: tenor saxophone; Steven Feifke: piano; Jimmy MacBride:
drums; Raviv Markovitz: bass; Randy Brecker: trumpet (3, 7).
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