Scot Ray

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Trombonist Scot Ray leads a West Coast consortium of like-minded musicians on this superb 2003 release. And while the trombonist possesses monstrous chops, this jazz fusion-style effort presents somewhat of a multi-faceted outlook. Here, the oft-maligned jazz tinted genre gets a welcome makeover. From the onset of the peppery opener titled "Three Quarks," it should become immediately apparent that something very special is about to happen. On this piece, Scot Ray, guitarist Nels Cline, and violinist Jeff Gauthier engage in a swirling ostinato motif via a high-impact delivery as Ray generates a tuneful groove atop bassist Steuart Liebig and drummer Alex Cline's rock-solid rhythmic maneuvers. However, the band minces a loose groove vibe amid free-form excursions coupled with tricky time signatures and a tightly coordinated approach.

Blistering unison lines, voracious soloing escapades, and memorable melodies augment the ensemble's spunky demeanor. It's partly about the musicians' glowing synergy and their effective execution of dynamics that permeates this outing. This production also benefits from a glistening audio engineering process. No doubt, Ray's brainchild looms as one of the top albums of the year, or any year for that matter. Strongly recommended.

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