Anthony Branker & Ascent

Spirit Songs

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AllMusic Review by

Although this CD has a picture of Anthony Branker holding a trumpet on its cover, the Princeton music professor does not actually play at all on this set. Instead, he contributed eight originals for the all-star sextet, music that recalls Art Blakey's Jazz Messengers at the time that Wayne Shorter was in the group, and the early John Coltrane Quartet. The music is modal-oriented, both swinging and modern, and a little derivative. Most of the selections have religious titles, but since this is an instrumental date, Branker's faith is primarily expressed in the passionate and spiritual solos of the musicians rather than in words. The chord changes are stimulating to the musicians even if none of the melodies are particularly memorable, and there are plenty of fine solos, particularly from altoist Antonio Hart and tenor saxophonist Ralph Bowen. All in all, this is a solid outing. Hopefully Branker will add his own trumpet to his next recording project.

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