Julius Tolentino

Just the Beginning

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Julius Tolentino shows a lot of promise on his debut recording as a leader. He studied with fellow alto saxophonist Jackie McLean and toured for several years with the Illinois Jacquet Big Band, though he has developed a sound that is not overly influenced by anyone else on his instrument. With a fine rhythm section, including pianist Jeb Patton (of the Heath Brothers), bassist Vicente Archer, and either Willie Jones III or Pete Van Nostrand on drums, Tolentino's take of Billy Eckstine's tantalizing ballad "I Want to Talk About You" reveals his debt to McLean. But he engages in a wild free improvisation upon his teacher's "Quadrangle," with trumpeter Jeremy Pelt also getting a lion's share of the solo space. Trombonist Steve Davis penned the brooding "High Drama." The leader himself is a budding composer, including the lush ballad tribute "Letter to Illinois," a lush duet with Patton that is a fitting memorial to a great musician.

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