The Door is the latest effort from pianist, composer Kelly Brand and her Nextet. Once you put this disc on, you won't want to take it off. This is a disc that is full of listening pleasure. The composition is excellent, the arrangements are thick with melody and tempo, and the execution is superb. The listener is engaged from the first note until the sound of the creaking door at the end of the disc. The Door is a testament to Brand's talent for composing relevant jazz compositions. Her work is infused with the essence of the jazz standards and yet each has an identity of its own. The broad palette of rhythmic styling keeps the disc fresh and entertaining. There is an ebb and flow of the moods of the pieces but they never leave you wondering why one piece or another was included in the disc. It is a musical tour of Brand's composition landscape that leaves one refreshed and ready for more.
Brand's composition is emotionally compelling in the context of the jazz genre and it evokes a sense of movement and place. The arrangements enable the individual soloists to add scenery to those places and complete the picture. This is a collection of technically demanding works that evoke a sense of accomplishment in the ease at which the listener can engage the piece, as a fully-involved spectator. Each composition gave me a feeling of the complete piece, and yet the disc also had a sense of completeness to it. The choice of compositions, the order and the transitions between each are all observations that indicate that Brand knows what she was looking for. The total work exceeds the sum of its pieces.
This can also be said of the personnel themselves. Brand, husband Kelly Sill on bass, and Jon Deitemyer on drums and percussion, anchor the rhythm section and provide the rails for this excursion. From door to door, this tour stops at many familiar places with underlying motifs and changes that evoke memories of other songs and composers, yet provides different views and perspectives. Even in regard to the Wayne Shorter composition "Night Dreamer," Brand takes a familiar theme and makes it her own with her arranging and lyrical treatment of the piece. This is the only cover on the CD and warrants being there. But it only goes to further demonstrate the quality of all the songs Brand and the Nextet deliver.
While I loved all the songs on this CD, some notable cuts include "Try Silence" in which Geof Bradfield spreads out on tenor saxophone. "Number Nine," a tune in which Art Davis gives the tune a very special treatment in his soloing. Finally, I liked all the songs where Kelly gets to demonstrate her talent as the soloist on the piano, you can hear the sense of pleasure in the playing that comes from playing what you know is a good piece.
The Door is first-rate jazz music, which has all the components of a great CD, good compositions, excellent arrangement and talented, thoughtful execution by an ensemble of musicians who know their instruments, the music and each other well enough to deliver the full spirit of the compositions. I enjoyed this disc and expect to enjoy it many more times.