Benny Powell

Nextep

origin 82517

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MUSIC REVIEW BY Adam Greenburg, All Music Guide

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Taking his first steps with the Origin label, longtime trombone sideman Benny Powell takes his own band for a spin, focusing entirely on original compositions from himself and his comrades in arms. The album opens with a nice piece of New Orleans-infused composition that makes full use of Powell's trombone in a second-line form, showing off the horn in a traditionally leading manner, rather than relegating it to a place in a larger ensemble. "The Township Diary" brings a more laid-back approach to the sound, emphasizing sax player T.K. Blue's alto a bit more, with a bubbling bass underneath courtesy of Essiet Essiet. Pianist Sayuri Goto's first contribution to the album, "Best People," uses the trombone effectively as a lead instrument, but really allows for the first look at a good (though brief) solo from Goto. It's on the next track, a song for her niece, that Goto's chops really get shown off, with an extended run in a Keith Jarrett vein that brings the album to a more grandiose pitch. Blue's sax moves to an urban street corner blues form in the next number, and Goto's contribution following is a tired but lighthearted piece emphasizing lighter piano refrains and a flute for Blue. With a bit of call and response, Powell turns out a piece from his ex-wife, and Blue contributes another piece, this one with a bit of a bossa nova built in under his flute. Powell's lone composition for the album, "You Got It," starts out with a trombone stutter effect that seems more novelty than melody, but builds itself slowly into a showcase for some excellent solos all around, before a finale with a strong Caribbean angle that muddles the instruments together a bit before unleashing Powell on an outstanding trombone solo that could have held the song up by itself. It's not terribly common to have a trombone in front of an ensemble, and it's a special treat when a trombone actually works in the front of an ensemble. Here though, it's not just the trombone behind the album's success; it's the core trio behind the compositions (primarily T.K. Blue and Sayuri Goto) and their sparkling solos, as well as a solid rhythm section that can easily maneuver from a Caribbean groove to a late-night blues riff without missing a step.






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