50

The Brian Landrus Quartet: Traverse

Raul d'Gama Rose By

Sign in to view read count
The Brian Landrus Quartet: Traverse There is a gravitas in the musical intellect of baritone saxophonist/bass clarinetist Brian Landrus that can only come from a wellspring emanating from the depths of a very bluesy soul. His is a singular voice and, as he sings in sensuous, velvet tones, his long magical lines swing and swagger with rhythmic grace. Although his music is, at its heart, conceptually simple, he rarely stays in the linear path of the melody for long, preferring to be seduced by the dancing arpeggios that beckon; thus, he is apt to turn the music inside out, or warp it so that it seems to unfurl in dazzling whorls. He also prefers to eschew the sharp edges of tonal color and timbral extravagance—preferring, like Ben Webster, long before him, to let his hot breath emerge and from his horn and dissipate with sullen colors, smeared with the occasional gravity of bubbling cheerfulness in the upper reaches of the register of his horns.

On Traverse, Landrus is considerably darker and more ponderous than expected even of a musician given to sudden breaks of humor, as he dapples his songs with harmonies culled from the brighter tones of his deep woodwinds. The maturation of his visionary perspective is eminently authentic on this wonderful album. Moreover, Landrus is twice blessed: once, with the spritely pianism of Michael Cain, driving the vision, ideas and rippling upper melodies of several songs; then, with the rumbling brilliance of Lonnie Plaxico's bass. Of course, the glue that holds it all together is drummer Billy Hart's skittering rhythms, bringing a shimmering energy to the whole set.

The music is characterized by the utter spontaneity of it all, as the musicians appear to traverse the relative unknown brought by the unfolding. "Gnosis," with its Satie-like inscrutability, is a leap of faith. The oblique ode to George Russell, "Lydian 4" is a perfect example of this ensemble leaping into the unknown with calculated risk. Meanwhile, "Body and Soul" and "Creeper" contain music of profound beauty and can be heard as a manifest of that which has almost not been heard—such is the magic of invention.

Great music is defined as such because it can be heard, perceived and experienced on multiple levels, but the most delight is discovered in being soothed by the purity of the sound, the softness of emotion and the delicacy of touch. Here is music entwined with the infinite, its harmonies become a dramatic balancing of tensions between the dark horn and the bright piano, the throbbing bass and the shimmering of the cymbals. All this until the imaginary and improvised collides with the omnipresent concreteness of imagery, shattering conventions in magnificently explored music.


Track Listing: Traverse; Gnosis; Lone; Lydian 4; Soul and Body; Body and Soul; Creeper; Soundwave.

Personnel: Brian Landrus: baritone saxophone, bass clarinet; Lonnie Plaxico: acoustic bass; Michael Cain: piano; Billy Hart: drums.

Year Released: 2011 | Record Label: BlueLand Records | Style: Straight-ahead/Mainstream


Shop

More Articles

Read Backlog CD/LP/Track Review Backlog
by Mark F. Turner
Published: February 24, 2017
Read Over the Rainbow CD/LP/Track Review Over the Rainbow
by Paul Rauch
Published: February 24, 2017
Read Before The Silence CD/LP/Track Review Before The Silence
by John Sharpe
Published: February 24, 2017
Read Process And Reality CD/LP/Track Review Process And Reality
by Mark Corroto
Published: February 24, 2017
Read Masters Legacy Series, Volume 1 CD/LP/Track Review Masters Legacy Series, Volume 1
by Edward Blanco
Published: February 24, 2017
Read The Picasso Zone CD/LP/Track Review The Picasso Zone
by Franz A. Matzner
Published: February 23, 2017
Read "Factory Girl" CD/LP/Track Review Factory Girl
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: May 22, 2016
Read "Sings the Blues" CD/LP/Track Review Sings the Blues
by James Nadal
Published: March 28, 2016
Read "Upward Spiral" CD/LP/Track Review Upward Spiral
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: May 19, 2016
Read "New York Connections" CD/LP/Track Review New York Connections
by C. Andrew Hovan
Published: August 7, 2016
Read "The Declaration of Musical Independence" CD/LP/Track Review The Declaration of Musical Independence
by Mark Sullivan
Published: September 25, 2016
Read "Shipwreck 4" CD/LP/Track Review Shipwreck 4
by John Sharpe
Published: August 16, 2016

Post a comment

comments powered by Disqus

Sponsor: ECM Records | BUY NOW  

Support our sponsor

Support All About Jazz's Future

We need your help and we have a deal. Contribute $20 and we'll hide the six Google ads that appear on every page for a full year!

Buy it!