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Brian Landrus: Red List

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Brian Landrus: Red List
No matter how one receives his music, there is no doubt that woodwind specialist Brian Landrus' heart is in the right place. Red List, his eleventh album as leader, is dedicated to the preservation of Earth's endangered animal species. Landrus names thirteen, at least five of which—the kakapo, Malayan tiger, gharial, vaquita and Javan rhino—are all but gone, with less than three hundred of each species remaining. In fact, it is estimated that only eight vaquitas (a species of porpoise which mainly lives around Baja, California) are still alive and swimming.

"I've been an animal lover since I was a little kid," writes Landrus, who became a vegetarian at age twelve and later a vegan. The Red List, compiled by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature, is the world's leading source of information on the global extinction risk to animal, fungus and plant species. Landrus is donating all of the proceeds from Red List to the non-profit Save the Elephants.

So much for the rationale. Now to the music. It is pretty good, and certainly well-performed by Landrus' septet and four guest artists: trumpeter Steve Roach, alto saxophonist Jaleel Shaw, tenor saxophonist Ron Blake and vocalist Corey King. Landrus composed and arranged every number, which include salutes to the "Giant Panda," "Mariana Dove," "Vaquita" and "Javan Rhino." The others, while not so explicitly titled, are nonetheless nature-oriented with lyrical nods to the habits and habitats of endangered species (for example, "Bwindi Forest," "Congo Basin," "Nocturnal Flight," "The Distant Deeps"). Once divorced from names and intent, however, the music is jazz, and any connection to nature in general or animals in particular must abide in the mind of the listener.

Landrus writes that he wanted his fellow musicians to grasp the urgency of the situation, advice they seem to have taken to heart. The ensemble is snug and well-ordered, the soloists ardent and resourceful. Besides Landrus, on baritone saxophone, bass clarinet and several flutes, they include Shaw, Roach, Blake, guitarist Nir Felder, trombonist Ryan Keberle, keyboardist Geoffrey Keezer and bassist Lonnie Plaxico who has the brief, vaquita-inspired "Only Eight" to himself. There are a number of handsome themes, the most endearing of which include "Tigris," "Save the Elephants," "Congo Basin," "Upriver," "Vaquita" and "Javan Rhino."

While the album is well worth hearing for the music alone, there is yet another reason it merits consideration, and that is, as noted, that Brian Landrus' heart is definitely in the right place. Animal lovers, take note.

Track Listing

Canopy of Trees; The Red List; Giant Panda; Nocturnal Flight; Tigris; The Distant Deeps; Save the Elephants; Mariana Dove; Bwindi Forest; Congo Basin; Leatherbacks; Upriver; Only Eight; Vaquita; Javan Rhino.

Personnel

Brian Landrus
saxophone, baritone
Steve Roach
trumpet
Jaleel Shaw
saxophone, alto
Ron Blake
saxophone
Nir Felder
guitar
Geoffrey Keezer
keyboards
Ryan Keberle
trombone
Corey King
vocals

Album information

Title: Red List | Year Released: 2022 | Record Label: Palmetto Records


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