“Unified” (Sunnyside) is a good name for a great album and it’s one of the most perfectly balanced, thoughtfully produced jazz recordings I’ve heard in a while. Texas born, New York-based tenor saxophonist Stan Killian brings together a group of synchronous musicians on his incisive third album, surrounding himself with a boss line-up that includes alto saxophonist David Binney and trumpeters Roy Hargrove and Jeremy Pelt, who individually impress on Killian’s neo-classic charts with extraordinary skill and relentless swing. The tune “Twin Dark Mirrors” captures the retro Blue Note vibe that illuminates this album, as does a tribute tune to a legendary drummer (“Elvin’s Sight”) that encapsulates Elvin Jones’s style with a Latin tinge. Killian’s band alternates between two bassists, Bryan Copeland and Corcoran Holt, and two drummers, Darrell Green and McClenty Hunter, and is anchored by the superb Venezuelan pianist Benito Gonzalez whose accompaniment and tuneful solos gives Unified its soulful pulse. There are plenty of stout, contemporary melodies (“Center,” “Eternal Return,” “Windows Of Time”), a deeply felt ballad that is the title track—and moments that soar, chiefly a feisty cutting contest between Killian and Hargrove on “Isosceles.” But it’s Killian’s clear-eyed sense of purpose that sculpt his compositions along with his smooth, sinewy tenor—proof enough that this intrepid saxophonist is a force to reckon with. (7 tracks; 51:55 minutes) www.stankillian.com
|from left: McClenty Hunter, Benito Gonzalez,|
Stan Killian, Jeremy Pelt, Corcoran Holt.
Photo by Wayne Tucker.
Labels: Benito Gonzalez, Bryan Copeland, Corcoran Holt, Darrell Green, David Binney, Jeremy Pelt, McClenty Hunter, Roy Hargrove, Stan Killian, Sunnyside Records