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Will Vinson: Stockholm Syndrome

David Lighton By

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Saxophonist Will Vinson performs the oft-attempted but rarely accomplished feat of producing fresh and original music with an open affection for tradition. He carefully walks the tightrope, all the while risking falling—on one side into shallow mimicry, and on the other into art music.

Stockholm Syndrome—Vinson's first Criss Cross release and an appropriately heady mixture of standards and originals—finds the alto saxophonist developing a distinct and personal lyricism. The album brings together five of New York's best young musicians, with the express goal of creating a new sound. The product seems to be the grandchild of West Coast jazz, including all of its melancholy, grace, and manner, but leaving out its occasional mawkishness. Perhaps it is no coincidence, then, that Vinson updates compositions by both saxophonist Paul Desmond and pianist Bill Evans.

On Vinson's originals, serpentine melodies and mesmerizing drum figures quickly draw attention. It is, however, the standards that are the highpoint of this recording. Lage Lund's acoustic guitar shimmers on the dark and evocative "You Wouldn't Forget Me," before an exhilarating rendition of Cole Porter's "Everything I Love," which features drummer Kendrick Scott's impressive technique and exceptional taste. The album closes with a spirited and uplifting take of an obscure Evans composition, "Show Type Tune," which finds Vinson in a trio setting with just piano and drums.

With Stockholm Syndrome, Vinson continues to prove himself a leading force on his instrument, but perhaps even more importantly as a focused bandleader. He demonstrates the ability to build a commanding narrative with his compositions and with the overall sound of the group. The album is beautifully conceived and seems to say everything it wants to say. As Vinson appears to have chosen brevity over bravado, there are no extra phrases or choruses. He chooses musicality above all else—the simple quality too often spurned by the vanguard of contemporary jazz.

Track Listing: Squeeze; Dear Old Stockholm; Late Lament; Dean Street Rundown; Icronic; You Wouldn't Forget Me; Everything I Love; Party of One; Show Type Tune.

Personnel: Will Vinson: alto and soprano saxophones; Lage Lund: guitar; Aaron Parks: piano; Orlando LeFleming: bass; Kendrick Scott: drums.

Title: Stockholm Syndrome | Year Released: 2010 | Record Label: Criss Cross

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