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George Spanos: Reflections 2

Glenn Astarita By

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As the album title implicates, these works composed by New York City-based drummer George Spanos (John Zorn, Ikue Mori, The Downtown Avengers) derive inspiration from past and present events. Then again, many artists use life's experiences for vehicles of expression. His second date as a leader bridges avant-garde jazz with conventional melody-making, along with musicians who possess impressive credentials.

There are some standout compositions on this studio date. The festivities are launched with "Daydreamer," highlighted by keyboardist Leo Genovese's lush but haunting piano vamp, segueing to a circular theme with onetime McCoy Tyner bassist Juini Booth pushing the cadence amid circular patterns. Here, tenor saxophonist Lawrence Clark renders later-day Coltrane type extended notes, outlined with yearning qualities as multi-reedman / trumpeter Daniel Carter, performing on alto sax, provides a contrasting mini-theme via probing notes. Moreover, Spanos whips matters into submission as he prods the soloists throughout.

The ensemble's telepathic-like interplay yields abundant rewarding qualities with slowly rising improvisational segments, delicate shadings and broadly populated cadences. Yet "Night in the Bronx," is dappled by Carter's ethereal trumpet voicings within a fragmented ostinato motif as Spanos shakes matters up with a fluid and punchy pulse. They also venture into experimental funk vistas and a cyclical course of action during the mid-section, although "Step Down," is erected by the pianist's melodic hook and fluently enacted block chords, followed by Carter's emotive dialogues and a peppy bridge.

"Oblivion" is more of an unadulterated improv jam, whereas "Orpheus," offers a pleasant piano and bass passage, escalated by Genovese and Carter's fervent exchanges. Overall, Spanos' seemingly positive reflections yield a largely memorable outing that synchronously bridges the opaque line between hip, modern jazz and imaginative free-form articulations.

Track Listing: Daydreamer; Light and Soul; Night in the Bronx; Step Down; Oblivion; Orpheus; Unchanged.

Personnel: George Spanos: drums, compositions, arrangements; Juini Booth: double bass; Leo Genovese: piano; Daniel Carter: alto, tenor and soprano saxophones, trumpet; Lawrence Clark: tenor saxophone (1, 3, 6).

Title: Reflections 2 | Year Released: 2017 | Record Label: Self Produced

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