All About Jazz

Home » Articles » CD/LP/Track Review

128

Russ Nolan and the Kenny Werner Trio: With You in Mind

Greg Camphire By

Sign in to view read count
With You in Mind is saxophonist Russ Nolan's sophomore effort as a leader, and benefits from the inclusion of pianist Kenny Werner's longstanding trio featuring drummer Ari Hoenig and bassist Johannes Weidenmueller, which simultaneously supports and challenges Nolan on a set of mostly his own compositions.



"Stand Clear of the Closing Doors" is a highlight, putting a clever touch on the theme of bustling city life that has long been a favorite of jazz musicians. Nolan and company evoke the frenetic pace of a subway ride, with metal-scraped cymbals and dissonant piano runs giving way to a swinging bebop head full of twists, turns and a fleet instrumental attack.



"Disheveled Waltz" offers an impressionistic breather, the group's gradually dissolving rhythms creating an ebb and flow that tumbles over bar lines while always sticking close to a memorable melodic contour. It's an enticing vehicle for Nolan's impressive soprano work, recalling at times Wayne Shorter's pungent, mysterious tone.



"Waiting" and "By the Way" are both marked by loose, quasi-Latin feels, from which the band launches to develop billowing excursions. The interaction of the musicians is complimentary yet provocative, their intuitive sparring varied and cliche-free.



While those tunes contain pleasant extrapolations on their main themes, other tracks such as "With You in Mind" and "Tales from the Head" have a discursive quality that seems to lack individualism. Though the darting interplay is well done, it misses an emotional connection that would separate these tunes from those on any given modern jazz record.



A similar problem troubles Nolan's version of John Coltrane's "Naima." Though he earns kudos for a unique rearrangement, the performance doesn't seem to convey the essential romance, sexuality or spiritual keening inherent in the composition. Once the band blasts through the melody, the track becomes somewhat indistinguishable. Granted, it's a tough task to take on one of Trane's most personal and often-played chestnuts with a fresh perspective, so Nolan deserves admiration for a bold endeavor that avoids simple regurgitation of the tenor titan's signature patterns.



Nolan's self-penned tributes to other heroes fare much better in the form of "Kilson's Groove," capturing the essence of drummer Billy Kilson's ebullient style with a funky yet trickily-accented hip-hop beat; and "Diatonicus," a brisk, bright swinger that effectively encapsulates the spirit of Thelonious Monk, using a loping sense of call-and-response. Again, Nolan's soprano playing is a particular standout here, as he throws in a sly quote of Monk's "Well You Needn't" and captures the stop/start motion of the dedicatee's singular sensibility.



Minor qualms aside, With You in Mind shows the promise of Nolan's development as a solid player with some appealing ideas, who definitely holds his own in the company of Werner's talented trio.


Track Listing: Kilson's Groove; Stand Clear of the Closing Doors; Disheveled Waltz; With You in Mind; Tales from the Head; Waiting; Diatonicus; Naima; By the Way.

Personnel: Russ Nolan: tenor and soprano saxophones; Kenny Werner: piano; Johannes Weidenmueller: bass; Ari Hoenig: drums.

Title: With You in Mind | Year Released: 2008 | Record Label: Rhinoceruss Music

Tags

comments powered by Disqus

Two Colors

Two Colors

Russ Nolan
Two Colors

Stand Clear of the Closing Doors

Stand Clear of the Closing Doors

Russ Nolan
With You in Mind

CD/LP/Track Review
Read more articles
Sanctuary From The Ordinary: Live At Firehouse 12

Sanctuary From The...

Rhinoceruss Music
2016

buy
Call It What You Want

Call It What You Want

Rhinoceruss Music
2015

buy
Relentless

Relentless

Rhinoceruss Music
2014

buy
Tell Me

Tell Me

Rhinoceruss Music
2012

buy
With You in Mind

With You in Mind

Rhinoceruss Music
2008

buy
Two Colors

Two Colors

Rhinoceruss Music
2005

buy

Related Articles

Read 1538 CD/LP/Track Review
1538
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: June 19, 2018
Read Love Wins CD/LP/Track Review
Love Wins
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: June 19, 2018
Read 1538 CD/LP/Track Review
1538
by Karl Ackermann
Published: June 19, 2018
Read Mutt Slang CD/LP/Track Review
Mutt Slang
by Troy Dostert
Published: June 19, 2018
Read Prisma CD/LP/Track Review
Prisma
by Ian Patterson
Published: June 19, 2018
Read Jazz Tango CD/LP/Track Review
Jazz Tango
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: June 18, 2018
Read "Celebrating William Parker at 65" CD/LP/Track Review Celebrating William Parker at 65
by Victor L. Schermer
Published: December 14, 2017
Read "Glow of Benares" CD/LP/Track Review Glow of Benares
by Jakob Baekgaard
Published: December 12, 2017
Read "Life. Love. Flesh. Blood." CD/LP/Track Review Life. Love. Flesh. Blood.
by Doug Collette
Published: July 1, 2017
Read "Wobbly Dance Flower" CD/LP/Track Review Wobbly Dance Flower
by Jerome Wilson
Published: October 4, 2017
Read "Err Guitar" CD/LP/Track Review Err Guitar
by Don Phipps
Published: December 4, 2017
Read "Seifert" CD/LP/Track Review Seifert
by Ian Patterson
Published: August 10, 2017