Anthony Branker and Word Play




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MUSIC REVIEW BY Robert Ratajczak, LongPlay | RadioJAZZ.FM 35, Poland


Composer, conductor and director of the University Jazz [Program] in Princeton, Anthony Branker has created an excellent musical project by engaging with the leaders of American jazz; musicians: saxophonist Ralph Bowen, trombonist Andy Hunter, Eli Asher trumpeter, pianist Jim Ridl and drummer Donald Edwards.

The album opens with the funky rhythm maintained in ?Let's Conversate!? in which the saxophone and trombone lead the title conversation [while] in the background Kenny Davis is almost furiously tugging at the strings of a bass guitar with Fender keyboard accompaniment. Great introduction to the world of music of Anthony Branker!

High winds begin unison parts on ?Dance Like No One is Watching,? and after a while give way to a puzonowi (?) and exquisite tenor saxophone solo by Ralph Bowen, who for nearly four decades, has been a very important figure in the New York jazz scene, often performing with, among others, Horace Silver and Kenny Garrett. It's hard not to draw attention to the unique energy that emanates from the aforementioned Kenny Davis, equally delicious with bass guitar and double bass, an example of which we are even in the midst of on the song.

The total change of mood is brought by the deeply moving song ?Three Gifts (from a Nigerian Mother to God)? decorated with a touching and soulful vocal by Charmaine Lee. The song tells the tragic story of a woman who lost her three children in a plane crash in 2005, just before Christmas. The title ?three gifts? symbolize both waiting at home for her three children, three Christmas gifts, which did not manage to arrive, and also symbolize the three children who died in the crash as the three gifts offered to God. The almost majestical sounding ?Three Gifts? is also another opportunity to delight in the poignant sounds, almost plaintively crying, in this song by saxophonist Ralph Bowen. Beautiful, moving eight minutes!

?Across the Divide? refers to the tradition of the 60's and the sound of such bands such as Art Blakey's Jazz Messengers. ?Rolling? bass, great band instrumentation and beautiful solos, first a classic piano solo by Jim Ridl, then the acoustic bass. The title track bears the marks of the most free form of what was on the album. Extremely rozimprowizowane (?) parties form a kind of free dialogue and great interaction of the whole team.

Finally, a real relief is brought by a dreamy and nostalgic ballad dedicated to the memory of a deadly postrzelonemu (?) in Florida in 2012, an innocent 17-year-old (?Ballad for Trayvon Martin?).

?Uppity? is a really captivating album, which equally has touches of fusion and funk from the early 70's, as well as the classic sound of jazz, referring to the great masters of the genre. Musical Genius Anthony Branker surprises once again. This is his fifth album on the Origin Records label who for years has published a unique position record, showing both the history and place in today's Chicago jazz. Origin Records products are a treasure trove of authentic Chicago jazz, and ?Uppity? is one of the recent unique treasures in the catalog.

Translated from Polish





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