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Expansive, exploratory — and striking an adroit balance between structure and freedom — this live, two-disc recording by under-appreciated trumpet master Jason Palmer remains consistently engrossing for its nearly two-hour running time. Recorded in June of 2018 at the Jazz Gallery in New York City, Palmer is joined by three of his regular cohorts who’d not previously played as a unit: tenor saxophonist Mark Turner, drummer Kendrick Scott and bassist Matt Brewer. Their chemistry is evident from the outset, as they navigate the beguiling melody of “Herbs in a Glass,” the first of eight Palmer compositions that snake and dart and slither but remain coherent through and through.
From the spunky opening notes of his first solo, Palmer’s trumpet command is on full display. His extended forays showcase a fulsome, brassy tone that roams from low rasps to Dizzy-ing flights; jagged lines mix with graceful swing and helter-skelter bop, dotted here and there with artfully placed pauses. He builds extended narratives that hit the head and the heart. And Palmer drives home this more-is-more aesthetic with playful solo intros to the probing title tune and the positively scintillating “Sadhana” that act as mini-seminars on jazz virtuosity.
Turner’s more patterned approach acts as a worthy foil to Palmer’s. And from time to time, he lets loose with a rambunctiousness largely absent from his work as a leader. A little catharsis suits him. The rhythm players intuitively deliver the ebbs and flows of intensity so essential to sustaining momentum. It all gels.
To the factions who question the rhyme and reason of making acoustic post-bop well into the 21st Century, this opus of an album proves that an über-talented band playing the music with telepathic fervor will always be relevant.— Eric Snider https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Mc6I7KRLueY
Featured photo by Jimmy Katz.