Trombonist John Yao has been a mainstay on the New York City jazz scene for quite some time now being he is the leader of two bands; John Yao & His 17-piece Instrument and the John Yao Quintet. Presence is the quintet's second release following 2012's In the Now.
In the band are John Yao (trombone), Jon Irabagon (soprano and sopranino saxes), Randy Ingram (piano and Rhodes), Peter Brendler (bass) and Shawn Baltazor (drums).
The album is dedicated to Morgan Michael Howard, a good friend of Yao's who sadly passed away recently. The songs were written soon after and were likely a form of catharsis for the artist upon dealing with the loss of his friend. The players are excellent instrumentalists and work very well together. Deep trombone notes and sax playfully intertwine in the album's opening track "Tight Rope". Nice groove in this one as well. The title track offers a bit of harmonic dissonance and more great trombone and piano solos. The third track "M. Howard" is a dedication to his friend and the mood is contemplative with an almost surreal sound as the piano glides through imaginative drum work and an excellent bass solo. The song ends fittingly with a rousing solo from Yao. "Fuzzy Logic" is a more improvised piece as the musicians take their instruments to new and unexpected places.
The John Yao Quintet play contemporary jazz in an imaginative and meaningful way with each musician displaying the subtlety and chops this music demands. Recommended.
1. Tight Rope (5:57)
2. Presence (4:39)
3. M. Howard (7:46)
4. Over The Line (8:46)
5. Fuzzy Logic (4:16)
6. Nightfall (6:38)
7. 1247 Chestnut (7:54)
8. Bouncy's Bounce (6:13)
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