Heartland '95

John Altenburgh

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Heartland '95 Review

by Steven McDonald

A superior jazz set from keyboardist Altenburgh, whose main support here consists of sax player John Greiner, drummer Mark Ladley, and bassist David Dunn; an assortment of others fill in the blanks where needed. Altenburgh took the risk of starting his own label in 1989, and it's nice to note that the recordings he produces and releases are, in the main, excellent efforts that stray a little from the beaten path. This set, for example, does not pander to the 1990s apparent conception of jazz as soothing mood music, instead providing the music with some degree of muscle and mind without diving into the free jazz and dissonance pools. Altenburgh's decision to use organ prominently in his music is another nice factor, one that offsets the more typical synthesizer washes and the odd bit of too-frilly piano (though, again, Altenburgh generally stays far from this.) While unlikely to win Altenburgh awards for innovation, this is good stuff to hear.

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