The Jazz Expressions


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Yoyogi Review

by Dave Nathan

There are significant differences between this second undertaking by the the Jazz Expressions and their initial offering. First, they have reconstituted themselves from a quartet to a trio. Second, there are personnel changes, with bass player Hilliard (Hill) Greene and pianist Michael Kanan the only holdovers from the original band. Both are members of singer Jimmy Scott's troupe. Third, while the play list is dominated by original material composed by the members, there are at least a couple of standards thrown in, giving the play list a somewhat broader landscape. Without the presence of a saxophone, there is a completely new sound to the group. It's softer, more reflective,, and not as urgent as before, as demonstrated with a lyrical ballad "Blues 4 Siboney," with Kanan's piano dancing over drummer Broadnax's cymbals. The compositions continue to highlight inventive and imaginative use of writing aptitude. "B, B, B, and B" is a tribute to the key of B, and is a delicate piece of lyrical whimsy, while "Jazzy Mary" emphasizes the light touch of Kanan's piano with much give and take with Broadnax on this up-tempo piece by Greene. "Subterfuge" is built around a series of calls and responses between Kanan and Greene. The group's representation of the classic "Moonlight in Vermont" interjects unusual timings while playing around the melody with occasional reference to the melody line. Their interpretation deals more with the feel of the song rather than its written notes. This is a risky procedure with a song so deeply imbedded in the culture of American popular music, but they pull it off with expressive self assurance, making this track one of the album's highlights. Yoyogi is another splendid outing by the Jazz Expressions, and it is recommended.

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