Green, who was the first runner-up to saxophone mad man Jon Irabagon in the 2008 edition of the competition, makes his jazz debut with Songs Of The Season, but he certainly doesn't sound like a first-timer; he possesses the confidence of a seasoned veteran. Green has a million dollar tone quality that's devoid of any gruff, grime or edge, but that doesn't mean he can't or doesn't push the envelope in his own way. He can lull the ears into submission ("Psalm 1"), wail with fury at the emotional apex of a song ("Philippians 4:13") and deliver intensity that rivals and reflects the efforts of a driving rhythm section (saxophonist Wayne Shorter's "Pinocchio"). One minute he may be dipping his toe into contemporary waters ("ChiTown"), but shortly thereafter, he might be diving head-first into headier spaces ("Time For Liberation").
Over a dozen musicians appear, in various combinations, throughout the program, which makes for a who-knows- what's-next listening experience. A few players simply stop by for a single number, like Quamon Fowler, who adds his EWI to the mix on the odd-metered "Peace," but others hang around for a while and make their presence felt. Chief among this list is guitarist Gilad Hekselman, who acts as a man-of-many-faces. He taps into his inner-Kurt Rosenwinkel and upstages Green on "Siloam," but sheds that mask on "Philippians 4:13," where Green comes out on top. His steady and powerful chordal pattern on "Time For Liberation" helps to give the song some bite and additionally serves as a vamp for drummer Obed Calvaire's wonderfully aggressive solo. Other musicians on the "key players" list include Calvaire and drummer Rodney Green, vibraphonist Warren Wolf, who steals the show on "The Queen Of Sheba," and bassist Kris Funn, who doesn't have the same level of name recognition as the aforementioned players yet, but certainly works at their level.
Songs From This Season marks the true arrival of a saxophonist whose cup runneth over with ideas; Bein' Green, contrary to Kermit's famous lament, ain't such a bad thing after all.
Psalm 1; Siloam; Dedication; ChiTown; Philippians; Pinocchio; Time For Liberation;
Shift; Lost Souls; Peace; The Queen Of Sheba; Don't Explain; Hope.
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