Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Brian Landrus Kaleidoscope, Mirage

Brian Landrus is no slouch on the baritone sax, and he shows what kind of composer-bandleader he is with Kaleidoscope and their latest, Mirage (Blueland 2013). It's his quintet along with a string quartet. The fare is well-thought-out progressive jazz-rock with much more than a set of riffs and solos. Much more.

Kaleidoscope is Brian on baritone, bass clarinet, bass flute, contra alto clarinet and bass saxophone, Nir Felder on guitar, Frank Carlberg on electric and acoustic pianos, Lonnie Plaxico on acoustic and electric basses, and Rudy Royston on the drums. Then there is the string quartet: Mark Feldman, Joyce Hammann, Judith Insell, Jody Redhage. Ryan Truesdell conducts.

Everyone sounds very good. Brian, Nir, Frank, Lonnie and Rudy get time out front and they use it to their advantage. The combination of baritone and other low register winds from Brian, a crack band and the string quartet in the hands of the Landrus compositional touch makes for an excellent mix and some moving music. The string quartet writing really makes it all work. The parts really do enhance the music rather than sounding somewhat out-of-place, as one can often hear in less successful pairings of strings and band. And the compositional frameworks are very distinctive.

This one is a serious blast! If you like your jazz-rock with soul AND brains, and dig the baritone, consider this one essential. Even if you aren't sure. Good show!

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