Ralph Alessi

Cognitive Dissonance

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Ralph Alessi's striking sound is the first thing one notices about his trumpet playing. The veteran has been active on the New York jazz scene for some time, and for these sessions he's accompanied by the equally innovative pianist Jason Moran (spelled by Andy Milne on two tracks), bassist Drew Gress, and drummer Nasheet Waits. Most of the songs are originals by the leader. "Cognitive Dissonance" is a playful opener that shows an Ornette Coleman influence, building upon a repeated line as its intensity increases, quickly turning into a rollicking performance. The hip "Buying, Selling" is full of sudden detours in its theme over a funky undercurrent. The avant-gardish "Duel" contrasts with the luxurious melody of his ballad "A Plenty." The free-form "Hair Trigger" omits piano, allowing Alessi more room to improvise over the driving bass and drums. The group dives full force into Sam Rivers' demanding composition "Sunflower," engaging its repeated motif with gusto. Milne is on piano for an imaginative reworking of Stevie Wonder's "Same Old Story," adding some adventurous accompaniment as Alessi plays its familiar theme fairly straight. All in all, this is a brilliant date by Ralph Alessi.

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