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Ryan Kisor: The Usual Suspects

Joel Roberts By

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The youngest of the "young lion" trumpet phenoms, 25-year-old Ryan Kisor can certainly hold his own with such higher profile peers as Roy Hargrove, Nicholas Payton, Wallace Roney, and that Marsalis guy you hear so much about. After making two albums for Columbia in the early 1990s while still a teenager, Kisor has recorded infrequently. He has been busy, though, as a featured member of two of New York's most successful (and distinctive) large ensembles: the buttoned-down Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra and the more free-spirited Mingus Big Band.

Kisor's new release on Fable Records shows that this time spent in supporting roles has been valuable. He mostly eschews instrumental fireworks (which are no doubt in his bag of tricks) for a more mature, confident approach that emphasizes his dazzling technique and warm, full-bodied tone. Indeed, as Dan Morgenstern points out in his liner notes, Kisor's trumpet sound is so full that it could easily be mistaken for a fleugelhorn.

Backed by a trio of talented young cohorts (Peter Zak on piano, John Webber on bass, and Willie Jones III on drums), Kisor works through a nicely balanced set of originals and standards, ballads and post-bop burners. He plays fast and furious on the title cut, and softly and melodically on "Sheeryn's Waltz," both Kisor originals. A highlight is the album's finale, a long (eleven minute) take on Frank Loesser's beautiful "I've Never Been in Love Before." Kisor starts the tune off slowly and lyrically, in Chet Baker mode, and then patiently builds and builds his improvisations to an exciting conclusion.


Title: The Usual Suspects | Year Released: 1998 | Record Label: Songlines Recordings

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