Friday, June 12, 2015

Russ Nolan, Call it What You Want

I am back after a computer-problem hiatus. All is again well and I am happy to continue. Today we look at tenor up-comer Russ Nolan and his album Call it What You Want (Rhinoceruss Music 04). It features a very accomplished quartet of Russ on tenor and soprano, Mike Eckroth on piano, Daniel Foose on acoustic bass and Brian Fishler on drums. They are augmented and abetted by Yasuyo Kimura and Victor Rendon on a battery of Latin percussion.

With the exception of Weill's perennial "My Ship" done in a nicely Latin groove, these are all Russ Nolan originals. They are dynamic and well-written. They give the band plenty to springboard off of and so they do. Russ has a not-too-derivatively influenced sound that combines Shorter, Trane, perhaps Liebman and those of that ilk, but very fluidly and distinctively Nolanesque in result. He solos with an assuredness, a fire and a maturity that is great to hear.

Mike Eckroth has important presence throughout, with a modern post-Tyner approach and lots of good swinging ideas. The rhythm section and percussionists give us lots of in-the-pocket pop-smack that makes everything groove.

It all heralds the arrival of Russ Nolan as a serious contender for the tenor-soprano middle ground in jazz. There is no rehashing or rote recreations so much as there is a complete mastery of a fired contemporary mainstream that has soul and sophistication in equal amounts--and some Afro-Latin grooving that's easy to appreciate.

This one is a winner!

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