Various Artists

Jazz Underground: Live at Smalls

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This Impulse! recording is a tour of the free laboratory brewing potent jazz potions from a new generation of artists. On the first track three tenor saxes and one alto weave delicate and slick lines in front of a rhythm section that includes the naming bassist of the Omer Avital Group. A brighter, but no less full sound emanates from the piano-based Charles Owens Quartet. Owens is the confident, expressive tenor saxophonist in the group. A spirited rumble comes from the Jason Lindner Big Band. A Latin is feel lent by the lively drum, percussion and shekere. Seven brass horns keep the Big Band jumping. Returning to a piano foursome, the Zaid Nasser Quartet's Zaid plays alto, but deeply and lyrically. This makes "Everything Happens to Me" the first classic sounding and melancholy track we encounter. I half expect Johnny Hartman to being singing into the song. Three quarters of this group carry on into a septet named Across 7th Street. Here, Joe Magnarelli shines distinctly on trumpet. We revisit the Omer Avital Group for a maudlin reunion of its saxophone front ornamented exquisitely by Avital's. The track "I've Never been In Love Before" proves a fascinating exhibition of Omer's voice and dynamic he has through the bass. Before hearing again from the Charles Owen Quartet and the Jason Lindner Big Band, we are introduced to pianist Frank Hewitt's sextet. Featured are the saxophonists from Across 7th Street; Zaid Nasser (alto) and Chris Byars (tenor). Zaid presence on one third of the cuts is welcomed, due to his high talent on alto sax. On "Prince Albert" Zaid impresses greatly in a series of solos traded with Byars. Jazz Underground is replete in skill and artistry, coming across as a sure window the sounds today of jazz' future luminaries. The sixteen-page booklet is an excellent addition for its many pictures, track-by-track personnel listing and text on the club and its players.

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