Nick Bisesi

Gemini

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Gemini, Nick Bisesi's second CD as a leader, indicates that when it comes to jazz, the tenor saxophonist really gets it. What does he get? A number of things. Bisesi realizes that jazz musicians aren't obligated to play an abundance of overdone warhorses; except for Johnny Mercer's "I Remember You," everything on this CD is a Bisesi original. He realizes that while intellect is a valuable part of jazz, feeling and expression are equally -- if not more -- important. He realizes that jazz musicians don't need a Manhattan address to be legitimate; after living in the Big Apple, Bisesi moved to Chicago (where he recorded Gemini in 2005). And he realizes that music other than jazz has merit -- Bisesi has backed his share of R&B and pop artists, although Gemini is essentially a straight-ahead post-bop outing. The saxman brings a long list of influences to this session, including Wayne Shorter, Joe Farrell, Michael Brecker, Joe Henderson, and John Coltrane -- and while he isn't an innovator, Bisesi is his own man. Bisesi (who forms a pianoless quartet with guitarist Neal Alger, bassist Patrick Williams, and drummer Eric Montzka) learns from his influences, but he doesn't try to sound exactly like them. The saxophonist's individuality comes through on "Gorilla Cookies" (which is funky in a Farrell-ish way) as well as on the playful "Dominick and Joey," the moody "The Garden," and the ska-tinged "Secret Agent of Change." This release has its abstract, cerebral moments, but again, Bisesi recognizes the importance of feeling -- and his lyrical side asserts itself nicely on "Waltz for Gayle," "Undercurrents," and the ballad "A Short Visit." Gemini is a diverse, unpredictable disc that Bisesi can be proud of.

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