Half Light

“Crossing Iowa”

(Newvelle Records)

Tenor saxophonist and composer Andy Zimmerman received an ideal showcase for his introspective songcraft with Half Light, his season three recording for Newvelle. The native Chicagoan is surrounded by simpatico confederates who help him establish his twilit soundscape, and it helps that label founder Elan Mehler is a longtime friend and collaborator going back to their days at New York University — Zimmerman also recorded with Mehler, a pianist, and toured Europe with him. So it’s an understatement to say that artist, label and sidemen were tightly aligned. Trumpet player Dave Douglas lays out on the wistful “Crossing Iowa,” which features just the trio of Zimmerman, pianist Kevin Hays and bassist Matt Penman. The three engage in hushed conversation, Hays’ sparkling keys and Penman’s rich bass tones providing sensitive yet substantial support for Zimmerman’s questing tenor. “Crossing Iowa” was also the title of a story collection by the saxophonist’s dad, Jack Zimmerman, with whom he teamed up on stage to present a combination of narrative and music.

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