by Joe Ross
Brooklyn-based alto saxophonist Aaron Bazzell takes a no-nonsense approach to presenting nine original compositions with high intensity and creative brilliance. Originally a classical saxophonist, Bazzell took to jazz to explore the genre’s freedom of expression and camaraderie among practitioners. Holding a bachelor’s degree in jazz studies from Michigan State University and a master’s in music education from Teachers College, Bazzell now teaches at Brooklyn Institute for Liberal Arts where he emphasizes empathy, focus and consistency to his music students.
With the prophetic title of Aesthetic, this album creates many moods, featuring extraordinary musicians operating in their improvisational sphere. Poised on the edge of total freedom, the musicians present edgy tracks like “Tomorrow Today,” “First Period Prep,” “Purpose” and “Maktub” with uncompromising vision and energy to spare. “Unrequited” is a ballad with considerable character. Numbers like “Asked and Answered,” “Up and Away,” and “Increase and Persist” tap the right and left sides of the brain to represent logic and creativity in the music, as well as to capture the duality inherent in nature. They may also be making both playful, as well as subtle political, statements. Rachel Robinson’s breezy vocalizing colors “Eventually” with an expressive invitation to join the adventurous journey.
The penultimate track, “Maktub” was inspired by Pablo Coelho’s book The Alchemist, and has a Latinesque groove. Live the novel’s inspiring tale of Santiago’s self-discovery, Bazzell’s satisfying song yields bountiful rewards and encourage us to listen to our hearts, recognize opportunity, read omens strewn along life’s path, and follow our dreams. Closing with “Increase and Persist,” Bazzell and his accomplices (Keith Brown, Brandon Donald, Jonathan Michel on piano, drums, bass, respectively) end the captivating session on both a passionate and high-spirited note. “