Dan Cavanagh

Pulse

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Dan Cavanagh makes his recording debut as a leader with this striking big-band date. One of the challenges young bandleaders face is tackling a program of original material with supporting musicians who also aren't widely known, but Cavanagh quickly makes it apparent that he not only writes challenging and interesting charts, but his superb players give their all in tackling them, while the leader takes relatively few solos for himself at the piano. "Having Built in Deeper Water" is a majestic opener, a modern mini-suite with superb solos by soprano saxophonist Randy Hamm and trumpeter Scott Harrell. The tense "Tunnel Vision" is full of rich colors, while the ominous "Black Rattle" showcases drummer Stockton Helbing and Harrell. The three-part "Mississippi Ecstasy" is a valiant effort to blend jazz with Timothy Young's poetry, though spoken words mixed with jazz remain an acquired taste, at least Young is speaking rather than screaming, while his poetry is well above what passes for it on other jazz CDs. This auspicious debut should open doors for Dan Cavanagh.

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