Trumpeter Shane Endsley's 2011 album Then the Other finds the somewhat low-key iconoclast moving inward toward a post-bop middle ground and away from the more post-rock genre-bending of his 2002 solo debut, 2nd Guess. Which isn't to say Endsley has gone mainstream. On the contrary, Then the Other is a forward-thinking outing that splits the difference between his work with the exploratory jazz-rock ensemble Kneebody and his obviously astute handle on the acoustic jazz tradition. It is just this mix of straight-ahead modal jazz and edgy avant-rock improvisation that makes Then the Other such a compelling listen. To these ends, tracks such as the leadoff "Big," with its languid harmonies, and the roiling country funk-meets-New Orleans jazz of "Kings County Ramble" showcase Endsley's bluesy, melodic approach to motivic modern improvisation. Similarly, the yearning, mournful ballad "Young Benjamin" and the ruminative, atmospheric title cut are poignant and cinematic moments that reveal Endsley's ear for deliberate, long-form melodic statements. Joining Endsley here is a handful of exceedingly talented and equally adventurous artists including pianist Craig Taborn, bassist Matt Brewer, and drummer Ted Poor, who never fail to react to each other as one sympathetic unit. Ultimately, Then the Other is a thoughtful, compelling album that reveals Endsley's knack for delivering familiar acoustic jazz sounds in new and surprising ways.
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AllMusic Review by Matt Collar