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Latin rhythms and Afro-Cuban beats abound throughout Relentless, saxophonist Russ Nolan's strong follow-up to the well-received Tell Me (Rhinocerouss Music, 2012). All of the tracks contained in Relentless are infused with a sharp rhythmic sensibility displaying Nolan's talent as a saxophonist while ensuring that the heavy influence of salsa and Latin-based rhythms shine throughout each piece. Nolan and his sidemen exude energy and spontaneity throughout the eight numbers contained on this disc, six of which are Nolan original compositions.
Nolan surrounds himself with talented musicians that are integral to the lively sound achieved on Relentless. Nolan skillfully exchanges solos and a sense of harmony with 2013 Grammy- nominated Latin jazz pianist Manuel Valera. The pulsing rhythm section is comprised of bassist Michael O'Brien and drummer Brian Fishler. The title track is a fine example of the chemistry between Nolan and Valera, sparring with one another melodically as the swirling rhythms wash over the listener.
Nolan offers the listener impressive arrangements of the Stephen Sondheim ballad "Not While I'm Around" and Duke Ellington's "Solitude." Nolan's unique treatment of Ellington particularly stands out with O'Brien (on bowed bass) and Valera providing an ethereal repetitive pattern on piano, allowing Nolan's saxophone to soar throughout the piece. Nolan's own "It Ain't Child's Play" (featuring percussionist Yasuyo Kimura) is also a fun romp, providing a samba beat that is replete with unpredictable chord changes as Nolan deftly navigates the tumultuous waters on his saxophone.
Taken as a whole, Relentless delivers an enjoyable offering of new and vibrant material by Russ Nolan and his side-musicians that will satisfy not only the jazz fan, but will also be appreciated by the listener that prefers their music coming from a strong Latin and salsa rhythmic foundation.
Track Listing: Relentless; Cassa Cerrado; Not While I'm Around; It Ain't Child's Play;
Solitude; Mr. Moore; Limbo; Abakua.
Personnel: Russ Nolan: Tenor and Soprano Saxophones; Manuel Valera: Piano and
Fender Rhodes; Michael O'Brien: Acoustic Bass; Brian Fishler: Drums;
Yasuyo Kimura: Congas/Percussion (2,4,8).