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Templeton, Gavin: Ballast

Gavin Templeton is a Los Angeles jazzman specializing in alto saxophone. He has a number of albums to his credit including his latest titled Ballast. Rounding out the band are Joshua White (piano), Richard Giddens (bass) and Gene Coye (drums).

Templeton worked on the album for about a year and after listening to this a few times I have to say it was time well spent. The inspiration behind these pieces comes from real life and at times are quite weighty. After all, life isn't always easy. Given the heavier themes this is not a sad album by any means as it is very vibrant and dynamic constantly shifting tempos and moods. Templeton and his band are excellent musicians, just listen to the first track "Contact" to get the picture. The start is slow and melodic with drifting sax and piano over subtle drum strokes before a full on free form jazz workout ensues culminating with daring sax solos, frantic drum work and furious piano workouts. "Strong Ties" begins in classic style which quickly turns into more frantic playing as the band abandon conventionality and play with fervor and gusto. Angular sax notes pierce the soundscape before evolving into gentler passages and as the band gathers momentum, Coye's masterful work on the drum kit is emphasized. "If Only" is another adventuresome piece featuring a lovely piano intro and wonderful sax and drum interplay.

The album's longest track is "Fortresses" solidified with Giddens' great bass groove. Abstract piano and saxophone create a fair amount of tension as the band get into free form overdrive with some chaotic and downright intense playing.

"Canto CVIII" ends the disc on a mellower note but no less adventurous as a persistent piano and drum line create space for Templeton's unusual sax explorations.

Ballast will not be a jazz album for everyone as the music can be quite difficult in spots but really it's that spontaneity that makes this album such a fun listen. For those into free form jazz this is certainly an album worth checking out.

Released on Orenda Records.

Track Listing:
1. Contact (3:34)
2. Strong Ties (7:35)
3. If Only (6:11)
4. Zeros, Ones (1:19)
5. The Program (7:28)
6. Waiting Room (0:46)
7. Tether (4:13)
8. Vexillum (1:15)
9. Fortresses (11:00)
10. Canto CVIII (1:30)

Added: April 20th 2016
Reviewer: Jon Neudorf
Related Link: Artist's Official Site
Hits: 1505
Language: english

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