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Saxophonist/composer Andy Laster has consistently yet somewhat quietly produced some of the most thoughtful modern jazz recordings in recent years. With this release, the artist puts aside his alto and performs exclusively on baritone sax.
Laster has manifested a definitive style and approach while often utilizing the crème de la crème of New York City’s divergent jazz community. He integrates a chamber, or contemporary classical component into his multi-layered fabrics of sound - consisting of stirring jazz improvisations and difficult to navigate time signatures. No doubt, the band is tight. Well, they have to be. But part of the magic lies within the sextet’s loosely perpetuated vibes, amid blazing solos by the leader, trumpeter Cuong Vu and cellist Erik Friedlander. Essentially, Laster’s compositions contain quite a bit of structure and regimentation. Yet the musicians are apt to launch into a heated swing vamp – where vibraphonist Bryan Carrott counterbalances the rhythm section’s grooves with limberly executed patterns. In fact, Carrott’s delicate touch, knowledgeable employment of syncopated rhythms and deftly articulated mallet work, sparks notions of the late, Milt Jackson.
The sextet conveys a ballsy demeanor on pieces such as the bump and grind affair titled, “Rip-Rush.” In any event, Laster’s music doesn’t come across as being overly austere or rigid. This is partly due to the often-magical balance he and his band-mates achieve via their impressive harmonization of dissimilar elements. Highly recommended...