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; Michael Cain: piano; Lonnie Plaxico: bass; Billy Hart: drums.

Title: Traverse | Year Released: 2011 | Record Label: BlueLand Records


Tags

comments powered by Disqus

More Articles

Read Developing Story CD/LP/Track Review Developing Story
by Edward Blanco
Published: June 26, 2017
Read Lantern CD/LP/Track Review Lantern
by John Kelman
Published: June 26, 2017
Read Inspirations (featuring Matthew Halsall) CD/LP/Track Review Inspirations (featuring Matthew Halsall)
by Phil Barnes
Published: June 26, 2017
Read Unification CD/LP/Track Review Unification
by Troy Dostert
Published: June 26, 2017
Read Crossing CD/LP/Track Review Crossing
by Geno Thackara
Published: June 25, 2017
Read Unit[e] CD/LP/Track Review Unit[e]
by Karl Ackermann
Published: June 25, 2017
Read "Which Craft?" CD/LP/Track Review Which Craft?
by Ian Patterson
Published: December 28, 2016
Read "The Journey" CD/LP/Track Review The Journey
by James Nadal
Published: January 5, 2017
Read "Aquarelle" CD/LP/Track Review Aquarelle
by Geannine Reid
Published: April 7, 2017
Read "For King & Country" CD/LP/Track Review For King & Country
by Glenn Astarita
Published: October 6, 2016
Read "Live at Barbes: Slavic Soul Party Plays Duke Ellington's Far East Suite" CD/LP/Track Review Live at Barbes: Slavic Soul Party Plays Duke...
by Chris M. Slawecki
Published: March 21, 2017
Read "Sunday Night At The Vanguard" CD/LP/Track Review Sunday Night At The Vanguard
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: July 18, 2016

Join the staff. Writers Wanted!

Develop a column, write album reviews, cover live shows, or conduct interviews.