John Gross

Beautiful You

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    5
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Beautiful You is a surprising work of modern free jazz from Portland's John Gross on the tenor sax and L.A. transplant Billy Mintz on drums. The sound is a little sparse for the majority of the album, due largely to the fact that there are only two instruments involved, but also to the style of composition embraced here, with heavy use of empty space and quiet accompaniment. The album opens with the energetic "Shmear," giving Mintz plenty of room to bash the heads a bit. "Atonement" seems to draw its lineage a bit more from the Love Supreme aesthetic, but with subtle changes to the basic framework readily apparent. "Flight" leaves Gross to lay out some longer tones on the sax, showing off some good clarity and length. "Haunted" lays back a bit, returning for a lengthy and snare-heavy "Dit" that uses some bop inspiration from Gross to power it forward after a lengthy drum introduction. The album closes on the title track, by far the most conventional of the album, with Gross playing some straightforward solos and only minimal accompaniment from Mintz in the background. Throughout the album, it's an interesting affair, with the interplay of space and tone working in surprising manners. Free jazz is well represented by the current round of jazz releases, and this one can easily go into the stacks with the rest. Maybe not the most revolutionary, or the most melodic, but it has strong aspects of both songcrafting and adventure.

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