...both spiritual and soulful, with plenty of heartfelt emotion expressed both in the solos and in Anthony Branker's writing.
Founded in 2004, Ascent is a jazz collective dedicated to the performance of original new music by Anthony Branker. The music on "Blessings" was composed during a residency at the Estonian Academy of Music where Branker represented the U.S. as a Fulbright Scholar and features some of the most significant jazz artists working today, including saxophonists Steve Wilson & Ralph Bowen, trombonist Clifford Adams, Jr., vibist Bryan Carrott and pianist Jonny King, among others. The group's recording "Spirit Songs" was released in 2006 and was named as one of the Top 10 releases of that year by the Jazz Journalists Association.
1 ASCENT 6:40
2 THE HOLY INNOCENT 6:47
3 CRYSTAL ANGEL 9:16
4 SACRED SONG 4:49
5 BLESSINGS 6:26
6 ARISE 6:55
7 WISDOM 5:55
8 NEVER ALONE 7:41
9 PRAISE 8:16
Steve Wilson - alto saxophone
Ralph Bowen - tenor & soprano saxophones
Clifford Adams Jr. - trombone
Bryan Carrott - vibraphone
Jonny King - piano
Belden Bullock - bass
Wilby Fletcher - drums
Renato Thoms - congas
Anthony Branker - musical director
Produced by ANTHONY BRANKER
Recorded September 12 & 13, 2007
at Systems Two Recording Studios,
Brooklyn, New York
Recorded, mixed & mastered by
Cover Photograph by ANTHONY BRANKER
Cover Design by JOHN BISHOP
All Music Guide (Adam Greenberg)
While spending time in Estonia on a Fullbright scholarship, composer Anthony Branker put together a long series of contemporary jazz compositions. Returning to the states, the group Ascent was put together largely around him and his work, and began releasing albums (beginning with 2006's Spirit Songs). On Blessings, the group works their way throug ...
All About Jazz (John Barron)
Composer/arranger Anthony Branker and his ensemble Ascent follow up on the critically acclaimed release Spirit Songs (Sons of Sound, 2006) with Blessings, a spirited collection of progressive jazz. The music was composed during a residency Branker participated in at the Estonian Academy of Music where he represented the United States as a Fulbright ...
JazzTimes Education (JazzTimes)
Anthony Branker is a music professor and the head of the jazz program at Princeton University. Although a trumpeter, Branker is best known as an educator, conductor and composer. On "Blessings," his second recording as a leader, Branker is the non-playing leader of a very impressive septet that interprets nine of his compositions. Branker wrot ...
Cadence (Jerome Wilson)
Composer Anthony Branker does not play anything on Blessings but he has assembled an impressive group of musicians, including Ralph Bowen, Steve Wilson, and Bryan Carrott, to perform his work. Branker's music falls under the broad Mainstream Jazz umbrella. His pieces are heavy on melody and, as their titles suggest, have a decidedly spiritual fee ...
JazzReview.com (Ron Bierman)
The musicians who have the greatest-longer term impact are the ones who have something new to say. But they are also usually harder to appreciate at first, because they're playing something we're not used to hearing. And so it will be for many who audition the compositions of Anthony Branker performed by Ascent, a jazz collective established to pla ...