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Darren Johnston's Gone To Chicago: The Big Lift

Glenn Astarita By

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Track review of "Glass Ceiling, Paper Floor"

Canada-reared, but calling San Francisco home since 1997, trumpeter and composer Darren Johnston delves into the Chicago's avant, modern-jazz establishment and kicks off a vibrant set, with prominent constituents of The Windy City's fertile soundscape. With The Big Lift, the trumpeter's ascending status within the outer reaches of jazz attains another hierarchical level.

Peppered by an undulating groove-quotient, the ensemble combines a frothy and infectious mode of attack by incorporating the blues, mainstream jazz, and avant-garde musings with ethereal overtones and pumping rhythms. These aspects come to fruition with a carbonated thrust on the bouncy "Glass Ceiling, Paper Floor." Here, vibraphonist Jason Adasiewicz sprinkles colorful phrasings, and accent the Johnston and trombonist Jeb Bishop's fluent unison choruses atop drummer Frank Rosaly's perky, polyrhythmic foundations. With popping notes and linear progressions, Johnston launches a broad musical plane amid some reverse-engineering movements. And Rosaly's animated and forceful stick-work during the tail end of the bridge segues the quintet back to the primary theme.

On The Big Lift, Johnston appends another dimension to his budding discography by extracting the rawness and ingenuity of the Chicago scene and imprinting a visceral slant into the sum of its briskly moving parts.

Personnel: Darren Johnston: trumpet; Jeb Bishop: trombone; Jason Adasiewicz: vibraphone; Nate McBride: bass; Frank Rosaly: drums.

Title: The Big Lift | Year Released: 2011 | Record Label: Porto Franco Records

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