Matt Renzi

Lines and Ballads

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Tenor saxophonist Renzi echoes teachings from Joe Henderson and stylistic similarities to Joe Lovano. He has a warm-hearted, open, expressive sound, rarely relying on histrionics or clich├ęs and staying in the rich tenor range pocket. This all-trio date has an impressive Masa Kamaguchi on bass and the colorful Jimmy Weinstein on drums. They form a union that never wanes on any emotional or musical level. The "lines" are pretty much standard bebop numbers. Thelonious Monk's "Eronel" has some of the deepest blue bass strokes Kamaguchi can possibly conjure within this relative easy swing, while Renzi renders the hip melody. Two Charlie Parker tunes are present: the wonderfully turned out "Ah-Leu-Cha," with its peppy melody and choppy phrasings played to perfection, and the atypically cool take of "Barbados," with Weinstein leading off for a long, constructive intro solo. "Dear Max" qualifies as a "line" with Weinstein completely setting the pace with a waltz-tempoed series of typical Max Roach melodic phrases. "New Line" is another very hip swinger with Renzi showing more of an edge and Kamaguchi breaking down the melody and reconstructing it on his stellar bass solo quite convincingly. The ballads are the lesser-known, Duke Ellington tear-flowing "My Love," with delicate sauntering from Renzi. "East of the Sun" is done pretty straight-ahead here, and straddles the fence between "line" and "ballad." It might come as a surprise as to how finely crafted this recording is. What is more refreshing is that it comes so effortlessly. Jazz flows, at times surges, through the veins of these individualists and clearly compatible partners. Highly recommended.

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