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Saxophonist Wayne Escoffery's music is influenced by a long line of musicians, and on Veneration: Live at Smoke he takes a moment to pay homage to some of them. However, this live album, recorded at the New York club Smoke, is much more than a dedication to great musicians of the past. The disc showcases some of New York's finest musicians now, who add a spark of their own originality to well-known tunes.
The listener is first introduced to the band with a movingly harmonic intro performed by vibraphonist Joe Locke. This leads into an interestingly familiar version of "I Waited for You which, ironically, once served as a closer for the Dizzy Gillespie Big Band. Escoffery's beautiful tone on the tenor saxophone really shines on this track. That, combined with his rhythmically intrinsic solo, makes this track a highlight of the album.
"Skydive is reminiscent of trumpeter Freddie Hubbard's version but keeps a tone of originality that is both refreshing and pleasant to hear. Escoffery and Locke connect with the rhythm sectionHans Glawischnig (bass) and Lewis Nash (drums)here like a match made in heaven. It is the harmonic and rhythmic matrimony of this group that brings such life and passion to this timeless music.
The recording ends very appropriately with a song written by altoist Jackie McLean, who is Escoffery's departed mentor. The song is interesting in its feel and time and is really driven to its limits by the soloists.
Escoffery is driving hard to make an impact on the jazz scene and Veneration is a respectful step in the right direction.
Track Listing: Locke's Vibe (Introducing "I Waited for You"); I Waited for You; Bee Vamp; Skydive; Tell Me Why; Looking Ahead; Isfahan; Melody for Melonae.
Personnel: Wayne Escoffery: tenor and soprano sax; Joe Locke: vibes; Hans Glawischnig: bass; Lewis Nash: drums.