Blue Muse, the ensemble that tenor saxophonist Sarah Lee founded, plays mainstream jazz with elegance and vigor. The group’s second recording, the delightful It Never Entered My Mind, is an engaging batch of standards crackling with vibrant spontaneity which highlights both the distinctive virtuosity and the combined artistry of the musicians involved.
Pianist Horace Silver‘s rhythmically intricate “Nutville” opens with drummer John Medico‘s brisk rumble leading to the effervescent main theme. Trumpeter Steve Strawley launches into an energetic solo with blistering tones. Lee, with her own cool, dynamic improvisation is the perfect foil for Strawley. Trombonist Lance Reed takes center stage with agility and eloquence. Medico deftly ushers in the tune’s concluding head with his thunderous beats.
Another drummer Jack Miller drives saxophonist Wayne Shorter‘s “One by One” with his suave and understated thrums. Pianist Javian Francis embellishes the melody with intelligence and grace, while the horns each take their turn in the spotlight with soulful swagger. Guitarist Jarrett Carter contributes warm, muscular chords while bassist Cody Wheaton adds a lyrical touch with his reverberating strings.
Pianist Joe Sample‘s “Freedom Sound” is a spirited and moving piece which the band interprets with simmering passion and quiet poetry. Francis shines with a contemplative extemporization over Wheaton and Medico’s martial cadence. Carter follows with a mellow and sophisticated soliloquy while Strawley’s muted tones add a touch of mysticism to the tune.
The sole ballad, the title track, which Carter arranged, has a languid harmony and cinematic ambience. Its interweaving forlorn lines shimmer against one another with pastel hues. Strawley blows gentle and muted notes while Reed adds pillowy warm ones. Carter’s intimate and wistful performance seamlessly blends into the multi-layered, collective, sound. This Rodgers and Hart song concludes with subtlety and finesse.
With this enjoyable album Blue Muse have created an accessible and captivating work, one which is rooted in tradition yet refreshingly contemporary Its superb blend of charismatic individual expressions and satisfying and cohesive camaraderie makes for a satisfying listening experience.
Since 1988 Kari-On Productions has helped artists get an even footing in the industry through jazz promotion in the genres of Jazz, World & Latin Jazz through Jazz Radio and Publicity. Why do we do both, because they compliment each other, and we care about fiscal longevity for the artist.
Billy Test Trio, Bman’s Blues Report reviews Coming Down Roses
JazzWeekly reviews Kenny Shanker: Beautiful Things