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Jacob Duncan: The Busker

Glenn Astarita By

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Hailing from Louisville, KY., saxophonist Jacob Duncan (Liberation Prophecy) plays his horn with vocal attributes on this trio endeavor that provides a storyline to his travels in the US and abroad. He was a busker (street entertainer) performing his craft near train stations, office complexes and so on, perhaps brightening the days and injecting a little joy into the life of a casual observer.

Duncan's musical storyboard is augmented by a crystalline audio production—where you could probably hear a pin drop. When looking at the big picture these compositions flow like a series of vignettes, where the musicians flirt with chamber-jazz and folk to correlate with the prevalent jazz element. On "Yuni et Anails," Duncan's whispery and hush-toned phrasings are enacted with drifting qualities, connected with a sublime melody and underscored with guitarist Craig Wagner's delicate picking. And "Kentucky Child" may kindle thoughts of guitarist Pat Metheny's windswept, yet fervent strumming on acoustic, followed by Duncan's warm dialogues, tinted with some oomph and bravado. He also renders circular phrasings and fluid flurries all within the realm of a catchy hook.

"Hamburg 1998" boasts a lilting theme where the trio gels to some upbeat improvisational maneuvers. Essentially, the musicians present an intimate listening experience and finalize the session with the bluesy ballad "Green Maria." Here, Wagner and bassist John Goldsby firm up the bottom while also contrasting the primary motif with punctuated unison notes in the lower register as Duncan's subtle voicings gravitate to a radiant soloing spot, complete with eloquence, finesse and massive breakouts. Indeed, it's a jubilant listening experience as the saxophonist intimates a very compelling narrative using the jazz vernacular as a tool for communicating his message along with plenty of good cheer.

Track Listing: Backyard Self Portrait, Warsaw of Ermou, Yuni et Anais, Kentucky Child, The Locked Door, Down By Monk's Pond, Hamburg, 1998, Spyro's Song, Green Maria

Personnel: Jacob Duncan: Alto Saxophone, John Goldsby: Bass, Craig Wagner: acoustic guitar

Title: The Busker | Year Released: 2017 | Record Label: Calvin Cycle Collective

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