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Album Review

Alexander Brott: The Aesthetic Attitude

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Alexander Brott: The Aesthetic Attitude
For guitarist Alexander Brott, the coronavirus pandemic that arrived in 2020 and led to the closing of most indoor venues, jazz and otherwise, was not all bad. With gigs almost non-existent, it gave the Swedish-born, Canadian-based and former New York City mainstay a chance to kick back, relax and start writing. He did so from his rooftop while listening to favorite composers such as Tadd Dameron, Duke Ellington, Elmo Hope, Mary Lou Williams, Thelonious Monk and others. After only a week, Brott had written enough songs to complete an album, and so the idea for The Aesthetic Attitude was born.

As it turns out, Brott writes quite well; his fluid, bop-based lines are reminiscent of the best of a golden era that turned the jazz world upside down as it rewrote the music's vocabulary. The opener, "Mosaic," sets the tone; its refreshing rhythmic current sounds much like early-'50s vinyl recordings by the incomparable Stan Getz with Jimmy Raney or Johnny Smith. Getz's successor is Stefano Doglioni whose burnished bass clarinet lands somewhere between Stan's awesome sound and the cool sonority of the great Swedish baritone, Lars Gullin. Doglioni calls Gullin to mind on the light and breezy "Hopeless," as he does on the cheerful "Aesthetic Attitude," deliberative "Just a Moon" and elsewhere.

Brott's rhythm section—bassist Ari Roland and drummer Keith Balla —is coactive in every way, with Roland soloing arco on several numbers, and Dalla, superb with brushes or sticks, having his say with a strong and expansive solo on the penultimate "Sisyphus." Brott's other themes—he wrote everything—are no less charming than those already named. "Shake" and "Milano's" rest securely on the bebop model, as does the vigorous finale, "Day Off," while "D.S." provides another example of Brott's winning way with a ballad. With the focus on Brott's writing, nothing has yet been said about his playing, which is exemplary, blending an agreeably mellow tone with brisk single-note runs that call to mind such masters as Jim Hall, Herb Ellis, Barney Kessel or those already named.

There is, in fact, nothing about The Aesthetic Attitude that is less than admirable, from the writing and choice of musicians to the performance itself. True, it is only forty minutes long, but nary a moment of that time is wasted. Can't award it less than four stars.

Track Listing

Mosaic, Hopeless, D.S., Shake, Milano's, The Aesthetic Attitude, Just A Moon, Sisyphus, Day Off

Personnel

Alexander Brott: guitar; Stefano Doglioni: clarinet, bass; Ari Roland: bass; Keith Balla : drums.

Album information

Title: The Aesthetic Attitude | Year Released: 2021 | Record Label: Fresh Sound Records

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