Sunday, January 1, 2012

CD Review: Brian Landrus - The Landrus Kaleidoscope "Capsule"

 Year: 2011

Style: Jazz

Label: Blueland Records

Musicians: Brian Landrus - Baritone Saxophone/Bass Clarinet/Bass Flute: Michael Cain - Rhodes, Piano, Electric Bass; Nir Felder - Guitar; Matthew Parish - Acoustic Bass; Rudy Royston - Drums.

CD Review: Brian Landrus' The Landrus Kaleidoscope - "Capsule," is an opportunity for listeners to appreciate another of the many musical visions of this forward-thinking artist. Having recently released his post-bop masterpiece "Traverse," on which he teamed up with drumming great Billy Hart, bassist Lonnie Plaxico, and his current pianist of choice, Michael Cain, Landrus pulls back from the heat of the bebop furnace to explore the less molten flows in his compositions of soul-suffused grooves laced with dollops of Motown, funk, reggae and Afro-Cuban rhythmic condiments.

Inside "Capsule," Landrus has lined up another keen set of musicians; stand-outs in the New York scene: Michael Cain on piano and Fender Rhodes; guitarist Nir Felder; acoustic bassist Matthew Parish, and drummer Rudy Royston.

Landrus makes it a point to admit that the bass clarinet's "woodiness, the fatness of sound..." has thoroughly captivated him. He opens the date (Striped Phase) with this reed, which he picked up in 2003, smoothly stitching together the tune with the Wes Montgomery-like chord structures of guitarist Nir Felder. Felder is enjoying a meteoric rise in the Apple; evidenced as he launches (Like The Wind) with a blues-based, funk-soaked guitar run, indicating that he is not averse to or, hesitant about, letting it "hang out."

Landrus' bass clarinet finds the perfect medium in (Beauty), a track that, in his care, stays true to its title, blooming blissfully against the brooding bass figures of Matthew Parish, and the impishly simple melody from Cain's Fender Rhodes, to blossom into bewitching harmony at the end.

The unintended elements of suspense and anticipation are released and satisfied on the CD's title track (Capsule), when Landrus finally displays his mammoth 'chops' on the baritone saxophone that shone with the 'cool lyricism' of the Lester Young adapted style of Jerry Mulligan, with the innovative flair intact. Bob Brookmeyer, who had spent many years working with Mulligan, heard something special in Landrus' baritone saxophone and advised him to "run" with it. Landrus took this trenchant, logical advice to heart, and ran with it onto the "A" list of top musicians such as guitarist/composer/arranger Bill Frisell, Sunnyside Records rising star, tenor saxophonist J. D. Allen, composer/bandleader Ben Allison, pianist/composer Bruce Barth, and the ascending Denver-born trumpeter/cornetist Ron Miles.

As a composer, Landrus has developed a technique of devising lyrics for every tune he writes which shape them and his solos out of his vision and hearing. The thick, dark collective lament (71 And On The Road), is a perfect example, it expresses the mood of ultimate resignation inherent in the title, by way of the squinting, crow's-feet gaze heard in Cain's wandering piano, and the smoldering melancholy of Landrus' baritone saxophone, which are also reprised in the ending track (Now) trailing off into a diminishing silence, without any sense of finality, that seems to suggest Brian Landrus' visions are ever evolving, and are to be continued later...

Track Listing: Striped Phase; Like The Wind; Beauty; I Promise; Capsule; 71 & On The road; Wide Sky; Now.

Produced by Michael Cain & Brian Landrus.

All music Composed and Arranged by Brian Landrus
Recorded at SystemsTwo, Brooklyn, NY
Recording Engineer: Mike Marciano
Mixed by Benny Steele at The Steele Factory, Brooklyn, NY
Mastered by Michael Fossenkemper at TurtleTone Studios, NYC


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