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Travels by Big Train

Co-led by saxophonist Justin Flynn and pianist Jeremy Bacon, this modern mainstream jazz quartet is rounded out by first-call session aces, bassist Ugonna Okegwo and drummer Jeff Ballard. Featuring eight originals and a crafty arrangement of Kurt Weill’s time honored "Low Speak (Speak Low)," the musicians don’t reinvent the wheel, but generate a highly-listenable program, teeming with acutely placed dynamics and emphatic soloing jaunts.

Bacon fuses the eloquence of Herbie Hancock with the fluid single note bop runs of Bud Powell during the bustling piece titled "The Owl." Nonetheless, this session offers a sprightly series of movements and swing vamps, devised upon bop, and some peppery bump and grind maneuvers, all executed with a democratic, group-focused mindset.

On "Redbud," Flynn’s soft soprano sax lines steer the ensemble from a ballad into a framework that picks up steam with rising intensity, followed by the soloists drifting themes. Then they explore the outside via odd-metered time signatures and Bacon’s perky chord clusters amid Flynn’s radiant soprano sax phrasings on "The Crane." In effect, the album contains a varied mix, where harmonious motifs intersperse with muscular workouts and streamlined swing grooves. A notable debut effort, it is. They intertwine the best of many jazz worlds into a cohesive offering that projects quite a bit of staying power.

Additional Info

  • Artist / Group Name: Big Train
  • CD Title: Travels
  • Genre: Straight-Ahead / Classic
  • Year Released: 2009
  • Record Label: Bad Gorilla Records
  • Musicians: Justin Flynn (tenor, soprano saxophones), Jeremy Bacon (piano), Ugonna Okegwo (bass), Jeff Ballard (drums)
  • Rating: Three Stars
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