Lucian Ban

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This is a group that looks to the past for inspiration but gives its bop and post-bop influences a modern, individual stamp. Lucian Ban and Alex Harding previously recorded as a duo under the CIMP imprimatur on Somethin' Holy, and Harding has incorporated Ban's compositions there and elsewhere. The present recording is a debut for this quintet, which is a better vehicle than the duo for Ban's winding, lightly accentuated, often complicated lines. Harding remains a primary force, soloing impressively, marred only rarely by flights of self-conscious shrieking through his horn, not an easy task. His solid, bulbous tone lies as thick as a creamy milkshake, and his negotiations of chord changes are on the mark, with his expressive fluent phrasing recalling that of Harry Carney. Lucian Ban's deft hands, along with the sinewy fingers of bassist Chris Dahlgren and the skillful contributions of drummer Damion Reid, serve as both as a catalyst to the horns and as a primary counterforce. Dahlgen is particularly impressive as a soloist on "Mutiny," the album's longest and most developed piece. Erik Torrente's recording debut reveals the alto saxophonist in a good light, a somewhat conservative though articulate soloist and a good partner in the front line for Harding, with none of the pieces sounding anything like a two saxes 'n' rhythm jam.

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