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Yesterday's Man

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Album Review

It is no coincidence that one of Saltman/Knowles' previous releases was titled It's About the Melody (as opposed to It's Not About the Melody, which was the title of a Betty Carter album from 1992). The acoustic post-bop that bassist Mark Saltman and pianist William Knowles have been providing is, in fact, decidedly melodic — not melodic in a pop-minded, commercial, or overly sentimental way, but melodic nonetheless. And that commitment to melody remains on Yesterday's Man. Melody isn't a mere afterthought on this early-2010 release; it is an essential part of Saltman and Knowles' post-bop vision, and singer Lori Williams-Chisholm obviously shares that vision. She is featured on seven of the album's ten tracks — and whether Williams-Chisholm is embracing lyrics or scatting, she never fails to be soulful and expressive. Like before, Saltman/Knowles emphasize original material; everything on Yesterday's Man was composed by either Saltman or Knowles. From the emphasis on original material to the prominent role that Williams-Chisholm plays, this 58-minute CD pretty much picks up where the group's 2009 release, Return of the Composer, left off. But there is one difference that will jump out at Saltman/Knowles' followers: the addition of steel pan player Victor Provost, who enjoys a fair amount of solo space. An instrument that is mainly identified with calypso, the steel pan has not been a prominent jazz instrument. But it has worked wonders for Andy Narell (jazz's first major voice on the steel pan), and Provost is a welcome addition to a group that already had a lot going for it before his arrival. Yesterday's Man is a winner.

Yesterday's Man, Saltman/Knowles
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