Nathan Eklund / Nathan Eklund Group

Coin Flip

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As Nathan Eklund rolls through a set of original compositions with a strong band from the New York scene, the trumpeter's fourth album does a fine job of melding eras of jazz. While the compositions are all new, the playing suggests two time periods simultaneously -- the focus on technique of contemporary instrumental jazz, and the virtuosity and power of the classic jazz era. The result is something of a modern post-bop. Pieces like "Happy's Sadness" use a strong harmonizing and drum sensibility to outline an otherwise straightforward horn melody. "Front Lawn" lets Rhodes player Steve Myerson wax dreamily over ambient ideas before developing into something faster. "The Supernatural" goes for immediate trumpet satisfaction, belting out passages that recall Dizzy's later years. The key here is that all the players, in all the settings, have a firm grasp of the musical ideals and a firmer grasp of what they want to do with their instruments. Extended solos are common, periods of collective improvisation appear from nowhere (as in "Front Lawn"), and respect is always paid to the sound of the instruments and their combinations. It's a fine outing, focusing almost entirely on the instruments and the ways that a good musician can pull sounds from them.

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