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The Hashem Assadullahi Quintet: Strange Neighbor

Glenn Astarita By

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Oregon-based musician and educator Hashem Assadullahi introduces a wealth of attention-grabbing points of view into this quintet date, featuring eminent trumpeter Ron Miles. It's a democratic, group-focused modus operandi, spinning with variable harmonic and rhythmic underpinnings, where Assadullahi is more concerned with compositional depth and use of space. Still, the soloists receive ample breathing room to improvise and engage in thematic expansion.

On "Hypothesis B—The Wildflower," the quintet merges a sense of quietude via Justin Morell's simple guitar chords atop warm and layered horns, dappled with drummer Jason Palmer's accenting cymbal swashes. Here and throughout, the musicians render kaleidoscopic frameworks amid thrusting rhythms, concise unison lines, bluesy patterns, swing and tango to coincide with the intermittent sojourn into the freer realm. In addition, Morell turns up the heat in spots with jazz-fusion phrasings as the band pursues a mix bag of novel ideas and cleverly articulated contrasts. Assadullahi injects quite a bit of pop and sizzle into the program to complement the temperate moments and memorably melodic hooks. Yet, his animated and whispery soprano sax choruses on "Stale Fortune," rides above a soft swing pulse and drifting motifs.

Miles is a strong foil for both Assadullahi and Morell. Nonetheless, Assadullahi's complex musical persona yields numerous dividends on this multifarious engagement, where jazz music is presented with a medley of captivating propositions.


Track Listing: Hypothesis A - The Feign; Hypothesis B - The Widower; Hypothesis C - The Geneticist; Hypothesis D - The Gossip; Hypothesis E - The Mayor; Strange Neighbor; O; NEAR... far... Stale Fortune; Lonely Llama (confiscated bootleg mix).

Personnel: Hashem Assadullahi: alto and soprano saxophones; Ron Miles: G trumpet; Justin Morell: guitar; Josh Tower: acoustic bass; Jason Palmer: drum set.

Title: Strange Neighbor | Year Released: 2009

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