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Alain Bradette: State of Mind

Nicholas F. Mondello By

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Contemporary: here today; now. However, in today's speed-of-light-is-too-slow world, that word is reminiscent of quantum physicists who, when viewing particles at subatomic levels, see activity that has already taken place. Ephemeral. Passé. Bland in essence, it has immediate and short-lived appeal. Such is the state sometimes with music categorized as "contemporary."

While one might describe the efforts of saxophonist Alain Bradette and his musicians on State of Mind as contemporary, there are firm roots here in the solid foundation of great jazz tenor saxophone playing and marvelous small-group writing. You get both here in spades.

Bradette, originally from Montreal and now based with the Cirque du Soleil La Nouba orchestra at Disney World in Florida, leads a fine effort of just great jazz. The CD, although released in 2005, is a keepsake joy with gems popping up on each playing twirl.

Steeped heavily in the John Coltrane, Michael Brecker and Jan Garbarek traditions and with a sound and chops worthy of that company, Bradette's approach as a composer and soloist is focused, energetic and poetically elegant. He must have been carefully watching those fabulous performers in the Cirque because he is a tenor-gymnast at getting around the horn with marvelous fluidity and elegance. His ideas blend simple to complex with strands and slivers of emotional ebbs and flows. Just superb musicianship.

Take his muscular effort on "Sitting on the Edge," for example, a cooker that is downright Art Blakey- esque in its fire. Bradette brilliantly shows that he can also pull out the soul of a tune in his originals "Heartsong" and "Serina." The "misterioso" "Woman Across the Room" sends up a hauntingly poetic melodic base. Is she there? Where is she now? Grabbing at smoke, she's gone. Just great writing.

"Morning Rain" pelts droplets and displays Bradette's deep soprano sound. No commercial nasality on that horn here—just deep stuff. "21 Août" speaks likewise. The standard "My Secret Love" burns with a freer rhythmic and modal harmonic approach (excellent drumming by Gerald Myles). The ensemble (and their respective solo playing) of terrific trumpeters Jason Carder and Mike Iapichino along with trombonist Keith Oshiro fits and balances Bradette perfectly ("State of Mind"). Drummer Gerald Myles pushes and prods along with Chris Queenan's bass. Pianist Alex Clements' solos and comps are forthright and loaded with flair.

The production values are exceptional—a beautifully recorded and engineered effort. The absence of liners precludes the identification of soloists. Then again, the music speaks for itself.

While it might have been recorded five years ago, State of Mind is indeed a fine contemporary CD by a highly talented saxophone voice worthy of further exposure in the Center Ring. Drum roll and spotlight, please.

Track Listing: State of Mind; Promenade sur St-Denis; 21 Août; Sitting on the Edge; Heartsong; My Secret Love; Morning Rain; Serina; The Woman Across the Room.

Personnel: Alain Bradette: tenor saxophone, soprano saxophone; Keith Koons: bass clarinet; Eddie Marshall: alto flute; Jason Carder: trumpet, flugelhorn; Mike Iapichino: trumpet (1); Keith Oshiro: trombone; Alex Clements: piano and Fender Rhodes; Bobby Koelble: acoustic guitar; Chris Queenan: acoustic bass; Gerald Myles: drums.

Title: State of Mind | Year Released: 2010 | Record Label: Self Produced

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