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Janer, Justin: Following Signs

Only twenty-five years of age, saxophonist Justin Janer has recorded with the likes of Wynton Marsalis, Yo Yo Ma, Roy Hargrove and many more. Born in Seattle and raised in Los Angeles, Janer has played throughout the US, Germany, France and Austria. Janer has earned an impressive reputation. His work with the Manhattan School of Music's Afro-Cuban Jazz Orchestra entitled Kenya Revisited Live !!! earned him the title of Latin Jazz saxophonist of the year by the Latin Jazz Corner. On his recently released debut album Following Signs, Janer is joined by Ambrose Akinmusire (trumpet), Fabian Almazan (piano), Sebastian Cruz (guitar on track 4), Ruben Samama (bass) and Michael W. Davis and Will Clark who share the drum duties.

Janer is an excellent musician and his saxophone playing is a major highlight of this CD. His playing never feels over indulgent as he keeps the excess to a minimum and when he does let loose it never feels over the top. As a result the music is pretty subdued and laid back and is generally quite listenable, although I would have preferred a few more head sticking melodies to go along with the excellent playing. Complimenting Janer is the trumpet playing of Akinmusire. The duo play well together as their instruments often play off one another, effectively adding textural layers of gently flowing lyrical notes and/or sharp bursts of improvisation. Besides trumpet and sax, piano is used extensively adding warmth to the compositions which are competently driven by the steady bass grooves of Samama. He is not flashy player but steadily propels these songs in combination with the gentle brushstrokes from Davis and Clark.

The album begins with "Bright New Day", probably the most melodic tune with languid piano and sax leading to some rather intense sax and subdued but intricate drumming. The sparse arrangement of "Following Signs" features calming sax and light drum strokes and a bass part that is the song's main attraction. Trumpet and saxophone feature prominently in "Alice in Wonderland" along with some engaging piano flourishes. Expect more of the same from the rest of the album as strong musicianship and solid songwriting are what you will find. A few more stronger melodies would have really hit this one off the charts, however, Following Signs is still a fine release from a young and talented musician who has a bright future in the world of jazz.

Track Listing:
1. Bright New Day (8:22)
2. Following Signs (5:48)
3. Alice in Wonderland (5:48)
4. Fidelity (5:01)
5. Song for Suji (7:04)
6. Loss (6:49)
7. California Sky (6:31)
8. Bump (8:28)

Added: June 13th 2010
Reviewer: Jon Neudorf
Related Link: Artist's Official Site
Hits: 1445
Language: english

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