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Brandee Younger: Soul Awakening

Mike Jurkovic By

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Sure the recording for Soul Awakening was completed in 2013, but we are more than fortunate that harpist Brandee Younger and producer/bassist Dezron Douglas have chosen now to free this music from the vaults. For Soul Awakening brings a defining clarity to what we've experienced on previous releases, such as the raw, groove/fusion of 2014's The Brandee Younger 4tet: Live at the Breeding Ground (Brandee Younger), and 2016's Wax & Wane (Brandee Younger).

Accompanied by her stalwart 4tet: tenor saxophonist Chelsea Baratz, soprano saxophonist Stacy Dillard, drummer E.J. Strickland and Douglas, the disc comes to stirring, ascendant life with Douglas' "Soulris" a powerful wave of spiritual vibe featuring the exultant tenor of Ravi Coltrane, who knows a thing or two about harpists and ascendant riffs. Younger stands fearless alongside Coltrane and drummer Chris Beck, whose combined energy would drown any lesser player. With a wash of celestial glissandi, Coltrane rises gloriously on Younger's own "Lover's Prayer," a soulfully emotive incantation and incarnation of Coltrane's mother, Alice Coltrane.

Presented here as a gently swelling, rolling, almost 1960's pop radio instrumental, "Games," composed by another of Younger's great influences, Dorothy Ashby, spotlights Douglas and Strickland exercising great rhythmic restraint under Younger's gorgeous, delicate sweeps. Trumpeter Sean Jones, who held his own with Herbie Hancock and Wayne Shorter on their 2011 Tribute to Miles tour and held the lead trumpet position for Jazz at Lincoln Center from 2004-2010, leads trombonist Corey Wilcox through a range of trade-offs and colors Younger's solos on her ever shifting "Respected Destroyer." Featuring tenor saxophonist Antoine Roney and more shimmering solos from Younger, Alice Coltrane's "Blue Nile" closes Soul Awakening on the same high peak that it thrillingly began.

Track Listing: Soulris; Linda Lee; Love's Prayer; Respected Destroyer; Games; Save The Children; Soul Awakening; Blue Nile.

Personnel: Brandee Younger: harp; Ravi Coltrane: tenor saxophone (1, 3); Chelsea Baratz: tenor saxophone (2, 4, 7); Stacy Dillard: soprano saxophone (7, 8); Antoine Roney: tenor saxophone (8); Sean Jones: trumpet (4); Freddie Hendrix: trumpet (4); Corey Wilcox: trombone (4); Nicole Camacho: flute (7); Niia: vocals (6); Dezron Douglas: bass; E.J. Strickland: drums; Chris Beck: drums (1,3).

Title: Soul Awakening | Year Released: 2019 | Record Label: Self Produced

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