Jacám Manricks is a rich-toned saxophonist and composer with a growing body of original tunesTrigonometry appears hot on the heels of the self-released Labyrinth (Manricks Music Records, 2009). The New York based musician has allied himself to a strong ensemble of players who happily take on the challenge of Manricks' compositions and invest them with some terrifically enthusiastic playing. The result is a bop-inspired album that can readily surprise and delight.
The album begins emphatically on "Trigonometry" with the drums of Obed Calvaire, followed soon after by Gary Versace on piano and Joe Martin on bass. It's a fitting opening as these three players are uniformly excellent throughoutCalvaire in particular displays invention but also a great ability to interact with the front line.
"Cluster Funk" is indeed funky, with Versace's chunky piano chords and tight ensemble playing from the horn section, including trombonist Alan Ferber, driving the tune along with suitable urgency into a strong, slightly frenetic, solo from guest trumpeter Scott Wendholt. In contrast, "Mood Swing" is a more contemplative and slightly mysterious tune that features atmospheric solos from Versace and Manricks while "Labyrinth" finds the album's core quartet delivering a more complex tune with some inventive variations in rhythm and tempo. "Micro Gravity" has the most improvised feel of any of the tunes herea flowing, reflective, piece that showcases Manricks and the rhythm section at their most innovative.
Eric Dolphy's "Miss Ann" is the album's only non-original tune. Manricks, Martin and Calvaire show their strength as a trio on this tuneManricks' sax playing is exceptional here, as is the interplay between Manricks and Calvaire which is held together by Martin's rock solid bass before he gets the chance to take his own solo. It's an excellent choice for the albumManricks' fine arrangement is beautifully played and blends well with his own original compositions. Trigonometry establishes Manricks as a writer and player of note.
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