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Album Review

Guitarist and composer Mark Kleinhaut's fourth album as a leader, Balance of Light, finds him collaborating with the great alto saxophonist Bobby Watson and making music of an unusual warmth and joyfulness. That feeling is generated, in part, by the fact that the entire program consists of compositions written by Kleinhaut specifically for this project and with Watson's playing in mind; he and his trio end up playing with an unusual level of generosity, gently pushing Watson to the forefront and showcasing his remarkable technique, while still playing with power and distinction behind him. Kleinhaut's skill as a composer is the other secret to this album's success; the bouncy but dignified opening track, "Ferdinand and Isabelle," is a particular highlight, as are the beautiful "Erikita," a tribute to his wife, and the charmingly off-kilter "Field of Greens," which sounds a bit like a post-bop Thelonious Monk composition. Watson shines on every track, but his jaw-dropping circular breathing technique on "Four Lane Clover" is especially worth noting. Highly recommended.


Born: 23 August 1953 in Lawrence, KS

Genre: Jazz

Years Active: '70s, '80s, '90s, '00s

Saxophonist, composer, producer, and educator Bobby Watson grew up in Kansas City, KS. As a consequence, his playing is steeped in the roadhouse blues tradition of his native city. He got his formal education at the University of Miami, where his fellow students included Pat Metheny, Jaco Pastorious, and Bruce Hornsby. The college has a distinguished, long-running, and well-respected jazz performance program. After he was graduated in 1975, he moved to New York City, the jazz capitol of the world,...
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A Balance of Light, Bobby Watson
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