Friday, July 17, 2015

Brian Landrus Trio, The Deep Below

Baritone sax jazzman Brian Landrus put together an excellent trio in bassist Lonnie Plaxico and master drummer Billy Hart. They shine forth on the recent album The Deep Below (Blueland/Palmetto 2015). This is Brian's sixth album to date. Surely it is one of his very best.

He holds forth on baritone, bass sax, bass clarinet and bass flute, with imagination and a fluid sense of line. In Plaxico and Hart he has ideal bandmates who most definitely benefit from the open trio format to excel in every way.

There are very good originals and a few standards. Landrus has the muscular baritone sound that brings him closer to Pepper Adams or a mainstream Hamiet Bluiett (and perhaps Serge Chaloff) more so than a Gerry Mulligan. But the similarity is only a rough gauge, since he follows his own path. On bass clarinet, bass sax and bass flute he holds his own as well.

He can hang with changes masterfully, and he does on "Giant Steps," "I'm A Fool to Want You," "Sophisticated Lady" and the many modern postbop originals. Yet he savors the melody lines and gives us vibrantly sensuous, full-throated tone, gorgeously and consistently.

The exposed, open trio setting allows him to articulate freely. Lonnie and Billy give us their own beautiful sound sculpting as well, so that from start to finish we have some exemplary modern contemporary jazz that shows us a Brain Landrus who has fully arrived.

I would be hard-pressed to think of reasons why someone would not be captivated by this album, unless it is a dislike of the contemporary mainstream. There is nothing simple or superficial to be heard on this one. Brian, Lonnie and Billy dig in and explore the music deeply, with passion and total musicality. Lend them your ears.

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