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Kelly Brand Nextet: The Door

John Barron By

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The Kelly Brand Nextet is the brain-child of Chicago pianist/composer Kelly Brand. The ensemble, a vehicle for Brand's compositional vision features a crew of top-notch Windy City musicians who swing with an aggressive edge. Something of a family affair, The Door features Brand's husband Kelly Sill on bass and on one track, her daughter Naomi Sill on cello.

The Door is made up of a number of compelling musical components, the most intriguing of which is Brand's composing and arranging. Her tunes are overflowing with catchy themes, smooth transitions and atypical harmonic structures. Her writing succeeds at challenging her musicians while remaining accessible to the listener. Brand also proves to be a compelling lyricist for a handful of tracks. Her lyrics emphasize a positive outlook on life and love, sung tenderly by vocalist Mari Anne Jayme. She even pens original words to the classic Wayne Shorter waltz "Night Dreamer, the disc's only cover.

Always subtle and swinging, Brand has a light touch at the keyboard. Her solos are clear-cut, well-developed and graceful. The pensive bossa-nova "Bitter Blew the Winds of March, the session's only piano-trio performance, is a delightful feature for Brand's personalized approach.

The disc's front-line soloists, saxophonist Geof Bradfield and trumpeter Art Davis are lyrically astute and technically convincing. Bradfield's boisterous tenor bounces convincingly through the medium tempo groove of "The Tides and "Night Dreamer. Davis demonstrates strong dynamic sensibilities on a number of tracks, most notably the Funky "Number Nine and the Latin-tinged "I'll Take You There.

One may experience difficulty removing The Door from their CD player. The music is fresh, invigorating and beckons for repeated listening.

Track Listing: Ding Song; The Tides; An Old Road; Try Silence; The Question; Bitter Blew the Winds of March; Night Dreamer; Number Nine; I

Personnel: Kelly Brand: piano; Geof Bradfield: tenor saxophone, flute; Art Davis: trumpet, flugelhorn; Kelly Sill: bass; Jon Deitemyer: drums, percussion; Mari Anne Jayme: vocals; Naomi Sill: cello.

Title: The Door | Year Released: 2008 | Record Label: Origin Records


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