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Cantrall; Bill & Axiom: Live At The Kitano

Live At The Kitano finds Bill Cantrall and his band Axiom, who consist of Stacy Dillard (tenor and soprano sax), Rick Germanson (piano), Gerlad Cannon (bass) and Darrell Green (drums), swinging their way through six of Cantrall's own compositions and one Cole Porter number with a bristling conviction and no little skill. All bar one of the songs, the short ending piece "Maker's", clock in at over eight minutes, with "Axiom" stretching out to nearly 25, meaning that this relaxed, yet vibrant album gives more than ample room for all the instrumentalists to stretch out in fine style. A result that will delight traditional jazz lovers, while proving just a tad too impenetrable for those not up to speed with the genre. Callard and Dillard spend much of the performance trading off and duelling with one another and throwing down the gauntlet time and again, with motifs and solo spots punctuating the expertly executed rhythms and themes. That said there are one or two, or three or four virtuoso slots that just go on a minute or three too long, leaving you with that feeling of "you had to be there", when Germanson dances on the piano during "B.B.M.", or Cannon boings his bass slowly and deliberately on the band's title number "Axiom". If you'd been sat in the tight confines of The Kitano, I can imagine you being completely enraptured by these tangential workouts. However from the comfort of your armchair, it all becomes a little too easy to float off and forget what your listening to altogether. It is a shame, as the latter song in particular spends much of its duration firing out punchy lines and rolling melodies that ebb, flow, duck, dive and romp out of the speakers with panache and energy, especially considering that Mike DiRubbo (alto-sax) and Freddie Hendrix (trumpet) bring even more talent and oomph to proceedings during this number.

In between times, the Cole Porter "After You" shows clever dynamics to ooze class one minute and breath fire the next, while "Like I Said" brings grooves by the swaggering bucketload. Although the ultra-smooth "Shaniece" just outstays its welcome by a minute or two too long, to really hold the interest from start to finish.

The production on the album is first rate, with all of the instruments cutting through with crystal clear clarity, although the quick, needless fade-outs between songs do prove to be a distraction.

Live At The Kitano both shows the genuine talents that Bill Cantrall and Axiom obviously possess, but it also suffers from the tendency to rely too strongly on those very features for periods of time that can be too long to truly engage with. One for trad jazz lovers to lose themselves in, but for casual acquaintances of the genre to dip in and out of when the mood strikes.

Track Listing
1. B.B.M.
2. After You
3. Sharphead
4. Shaniece
5. Like I Said
6. Axiom
7. Maker's

Added: September 21st 2012
Reviewer: Steven Reid
Related Link: Bill Cantrall Online
Hits: 1737
Language: english

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