On his debut effort as a solo artist, New York City-based alto saxophonist Curtis MacDonald doesn’t blaze new trails, but offers a holistic agenda that probes the mind and offers a hearty glimpse into his compositional acumen. One of the constants here resides in his penchant for adjusting tonalities and mode of delivery for a particular segment or motif. In essence, these arrangements are designed with firmly planted emotive characteristics.
With regal horns choruses and subtle hues, MacDonald touches one’s neural network on this release. Forward movement is an underlying factor amid zestful overtones, false endings and suspenseful theme-building exercises.
The piece titled “Mosaic II,” serves as a prominent focal point, since the saxophonist constructs a linear theme, structured on intricately arranged developments and variable dynamics. Here, pianist David Virelles flirts with the freer realm and elevates the momentum atop Greg Ritchie’s firm drumming. MacDonald segues back into the picture via whispery phrasings. And Virelles contrasts by mirroring the leader’s lines and scope of attack. Hence, they project an stimulating modality then raise the pitch with help from tenor saxophonist Jeremy Viner.
MacDonald’s use of space and offbeat metrics add quite a bit of depth to sum of the moving parts. Thankfully, the saxophonist avoids post-bop modernism clichés. He communicates a singular identity, yet doesn’t overwhelm or delve into wanton soloing endeavors that fade into the sunset. MacDonald shows a great deal of savvy and insight during the preponderance of this commendable outing.