(Outside In)

The writing and arrangements of Javier Nero shine as brightly as his burnished trombone on Freedom (Outside In), the Juilliard and University of Miami grad’s debut recording with his sextet. While Nero penned the compositions at different times during the past few years, the theme of the recording could hardly be more timely. As a person of color growing up in a white neighborhood in Washington State, Nero understands what it means to face unfounded judgments from both sides of the color line. Through his music, he strives to communicate his belief that people, no matter their race or ethnicity, are individuals first and foremost. This credo — one that resounds throughout jazz history — can be viewed in the personnel on Freedom, which blurs cultural and geographical boundaries and includes Haitian-American trumpeter Jean Caze and Israeli-born Tal Cohen. Both of those gentlemen, as well as trumpeter Brian Lynch and percussionist Murphy Aucamp, have roots in the South Florida jazz community, of which Nero was a member while earning his master’s and doctoral degrees at UM’s Frost School of Music. Nero recruited the dean of that institution, pianist Shelly Berg, to play on a few cuts, as well, including the title track. After a stately introductory track featuring just the horns, “Freedom” rings in almost anthemic fashion. Bassist Dion Kerr and drummer Aaron Kimmel lay down a rhythmic foundation over which the horns blow in muted, yet celebratory, fashion. Nero’s solo is a standout, its warm exuberance echoed by Berg’s solo statement, a wordless vocal chorus and the back-and-forth of the various horn voices. Its optimism is a potent tonic for tough times.

Purchase Album:

The Authoritative Voice in Jazz