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Jason Lindner: Premonition

C. Andrew Hovan By

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When the Verve Music Group swallowed up a number of labels a few years ago the stable of performers at Impulse was cut drastically, particularly in the area of young up-and-coming talents. Premonition was one of the casualties of the amalgamation. As a follow-up to the great curiosity pianist/composer Jason Lindner had fostered via a few tracks that appeared on a 1998 various artist set, Jazz Underground-Live at Smalls, he was signed to Impulse, recorded this album, and then saw it shelved after the merger. Fortunately, Chick Corea's Stretch label has seen fit to release this distinguished and intelligent set of modern big band jazz.

Following a brassy fanfare, The Ensemble (as Lindner likes to call his band) swings into the robust title track, throwing off any idea that this will be a retread of routine head arrangements. This segues flawlessly into the tick-tock mambo of "Mr. Demargary," a vivacious dialogue between Alex Norris' flugelhorn and Diego Urcola's muted trumpet. A sweet ballad, "Aquarius," slows things down as Lindner voices flute and bones with luxuriant results.

Funk and Afro-Cuban strains are clearly a part of Lindner's capacious bag, with "Mary's Vibe" including a brief, but effective rap from MC Benu Merata. "Closure" is just one cut to include Kahil Kwame Bell's organic conga and percussion musings, ushering in properly the investigative "Incantation." Drummers Jeff Ballard and Daniel Freedman also strut their rhythmic stuff, both men contributing seamlessly to "Gaga" (each one is on a different channel making it easy to decipher their individual offerings).

Displaying Lindner's obvious comprehension of the Basie tradition, "U Near Blew!" proves to be a savvy shuffle with tenor man Jimmy Green "walking the bar" so to speak. The Basie comparison can be exerted further as Linder's piano solos are few and complimentary in nature. Even though this is his band, he manages to give himself totally to the collective spirit of the whole. These are just a few of the things that make Premonition come in at the head of the class. While Lindner has kept this ensemble active every Monday night at Smalls for the past several years, this release could easily find him donning the title of "most remarkable newcomer" as the year closes.

Track Listing: Intro, Premonition, Mr. Demargary, Space- part I

Personnel: Jason Lindner-piano and Fender Rhodes; Omer Avital, Avishai Cohen, Dwayne Burno-bass; Daniel Freedman, Jeff Ballard-drums; Kahil Kwame Bell-percussion; Myron Walden-alto saxophone; Jimmy Greene, Charles Owen-tenor saxophone; Jimmy Greene-tenor saxophone & flute; David Schumacher-baritone saxophone and bass clarinet; Avi Lebovich, Joe Fidler-trombone; Alex Norris, Diego Urcola-trumpet and flugelhorn, MC Benu Merata-rap

Title: Premonition | Year Released: 2000 | Record Label: Concord Music Group


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