Francesca Tanksley


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This 2003 release signifies New York City-based pianist/composer Francesca Tanksley's inaugural solo effort. She's been performing with modern jazz saxophonist Billy Harper for a number of years amid stints with trombonist Slide Hampton and others. Here, she performs alongside fellow Billy Harper Quintet bandmates bassist Clarence Penn and drummer Newman Taylor Baker. A surprising debut indeed, as Ms. Tanksley's strong sense of swing is tempered by her penchant for altering the various rhythmic interludes with lush harmonics and wistful melodies. The trio's synergy comes to fruition from the onset. The pianist often delves deep into these various frameworks to complement a series of lightly crashing cadenzas. Tanksley's fluent right-hand, single-note lines are nicely augmented by her rhythmically oriented block chords. The pianist's compositions are marked by climactic episodes, where she tinkers with the primary melodies as a means for extended improvisational forays. Moreover, guest vocalist Judy Brady lends her wares for the emotively constructed work titled "Prayer." Overall, this CD should accelerate Tanksley's stature within modern jazz circles.

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