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MP3 Russ Nolan & The Kenny Werner Trio - With You In Mind

Dynamic modern jazz that touches peers and aficionados alike

9 MP3 Songs
JAZZ: Modern Creative Jazz, JAZZ: Jazz quartet

Show all album songs: With You In Mind Songs

Liner Notes by Francis Davis of the Village Voice, NYC:
Small wonder that progress is a cherished concept in jazz, given the music’s evolution from folk expression to postmoderism in less than a century. But individual progress—the greater technical command and deeper emotional resonance a player hopefully gains from recording to recording and gig to gig—has always been part of the concept as well.
Two Colors, Russ Nolan’s first album as a leader, was an impressive debut; With You in Mind is a flying leap. Inasmuch as it finds the saxophonist seamlessly integrating himself into a longstanding trio, the new album reminds me of some of those classic Prestiges and Blue Notes of the 1950s and ‘60s, on which freelance hornmen availed themselves of Miles Davis’s rhythm sections. A major source of pleasure on With You in Mind is Nolan’s heady rapport with Kenny Werner, Ari Hoenig, and Johannes Weidenmueller—perhaps best exemplified by the four-way interaction on “Disheveled Waltz,” where such maters as tempo and meter are subject to passing whim.
This rapport shouldn’t be surprising. Nolan says that a lesson he took from Werner following their intial meeting in Chicago in 2001 “changed the course of my life. Not only by learning his compositional approach, but by confirming my suspicions that I needed to move to New York to absorb the creative spirit there. Or have it absorb me.”
A cardinal rule of that compositional approach is avoiding overfamiliar harmonic changes—a lesson Nolan took to heart, to judge from numbers like “Stand Clear of the Closing Doors,” with its mock-frenzy, and the opening “Kilson’s Groove,” inspired by drummer Billy Kilson’s “funky, hiphop grooves with the Dave Holland Quintet” and in four—but a tricky four “with off-beat kicks in the B section.” The fresh take on “Naima” is the album’s only standard: “Trane is still my Number One influence, but I find reinterpreting him from a compositional standpoint more vibrant than regurgitating his changes or patterns.” But there’s a glimpse of Monk at his most humorous and diatonic on “Diatonious”—“not referring to any of his compositions in particular, just the vibe.” And though With You in Mind abounds with examples of the high-register facility that sets Nolan apart from most other contemporary saxophonists—he never uses falsetto for shock effect, but tosses off complete phrases up there—the track to turn to for immediate confirmation is “Tales from the Head.”
Nolan has had an unusual career trajectory for a musician, gaining a foothold in the business world before making a name for himself in jazz. He’s certainly taking care of business here.
Francis Davis
Francis Davis is a columnist for the Village Voice and the author of seven books, including Like Young and Jazz and Its Discontents.
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