Not many piano led ensembles finds the pianist laying as far back in the musical dialogue as Earl MacDonald, who doesn't come anywhere near an extended solo until "Miles Apart" and Percy Mayfield's Ray Charles blow- out "Hit The Road Jack" (tracks five and six respectively). But that's just fine given that MacDonald has charted the conversations and man oh man, do these arrangements crackle with spirit.
From the high-flying "Dig In Buddy" to the exhilarating Latin flavors "Dolphy Dance," MacDonald's prodigious gifts as an arranger shine as the horns sway and dance to such a degree that, if you close your eyes and listen, you can envision a whole dance floor of zoot suits and high skirts. And there's a full bandstand of seven horns powering Open Borders irrepressible groove.
With all his players coming from different influences, styles, and walks of life, the communal swing they find and thrive mightily on makes the notion of open borders even more commanding. They push, pull and celebrate loud on Jackie McLean's "Appointment in Ghana," evidence more so of MacDonald's musical sense of control and candor. Open your mind and cross the borders.
Dig In Buddy; Sordid Sort Of Fellow; Mirror Mind; Appointment In Ghana; Miles Apart; Hit The Road Jack; Smoke And Mirrors; Catch Of The Day; Blame It On My Youth; Dolphy Dance; East Of The Sun.
Earl MacDonald: piano; Kris Allen: alto saxophone; Wayne Escoffery: tenor saxophone; Lauren Sevian: baritone saxophone; Jeffrey Holmes: trumpet; Josh Evans: trumpet; Alex Gertner: French horn; Sara Jacovino: trombone; Ben Bilello: drums; Henry Lugo: bass; Atla DeChamplain: vocals (11); Ricardo Monzon: percussion (10).
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