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Album Review

The debut album from trumpeter Brian Owen shows off a set of original compositions with a fair amount of musical complexity involved. Owen has reasonably sharp chops, and the ability to pull off a solo with high technical skill. The band backing him up here has as much or more ability, with John Hansen playing a particularly skilled piano turn, Jay Thomas on sax, and Phil Parisot and Jon Hamar holding up the rhythm end very capably. The compositions are really the stars here though, with hints of the progressive jazz of the '60s, hints of the contemporary big band movement, and hints of classical composition techniques. Beyond all of those hints of motives though, there's something new in the way the lines are set up to conflict with one another and come to resolution, in the way the backing horn line can sound like something from the days of Dizzy Gillespie's Afro-Cuban jazz while the melodic line bubbles along like something from Lee Konitz or Miles Davis. And then it all comes back together in a coherent work. It's a fine debut, but really a fine album beyond that. Pick it up for the playing from all parties involved, but for the compositions more.

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Unmei, Brian Owen
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