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New Releases at December 2011

program New Releases at December 2011 Alphonse Mouzon Angel Face (Tenacious Records #9216-2, 2011

Alphonse Mouzon Angel Face (Tenacious Records #9216-2, 2011 USA)

Alphonse Mouzon's career as a drummer, composer, arranger, producer, actor, multi-instrumentalist, playing jazz, fusion, disco, funk, pop, or rock has delighted generations of fans all over the world, since the time when he was at the forefront of the jazz fusion movement. As his impressive discography already proved it, his creative drive and audacity didn't slow down over the years, and "Angel Face”turns out to be another compelling proof of his qualities.

This time he is surrounded by a selected group of jazz personalities well connected with his vision and skills, displaying an impeccable showcase of artistic prowess. As composer and arranger of all 14 pieces, Alphonse Mouzon directed this dream band with care for details and cohesiveness, giving musicians the partitions that value most their stylistic traits, making sure that their distinguished personalities blend in full power in a united stream.

Working on this foundation, the band puts all its virtuosic spontaneity on display, with Mouzon controlling the overall direction and dynamic, while boldly maneuvering between enthusiastic beats and warmer, soft touches, always showing his natural musicality, propelling forward yet leaving enough space for free improvisational adventures. At his side, we hear master bassists Darek Oleszkiewicz and Christian McBride, accenting details and passages with their trade-marked agility and subtlety.

The common denominator of this solid performance is the irresistible melodic swing flowing throughout, starting with the remarkably animated "Harlem Blues", featuring Cedar Walton on piano and Don Menza on sax. Arturo Sandoval is drawing attention like a magnet, his magic trumpet can also be heard on "Birds on a Wire" and on the whimsical "Blues Clues" here in dialogue with Don Menza on tenor saxophone and Kenny Barron on piano.

The graceful "A Labor of Love" introduces veterans Bob Mintzer and Wallace Roney, the latter bringing echoes of Miles Davis on "More Miles in the Sky". Memorable is also the smiling elegant melody of the "Angel Face" with trumpet and tenor sax in perfect fusion.

The album is rich in other pleasant surprises: "Stepping Stone" a dazzling fresh melody with springy harmony vocals , courtesy of Emma Alexandra Mouzon, while Mouzon himself is at the piano on "I Wonder Why" and "Whatever" , opening rhythmic colorful avenues in close harmony with trumpet and saxophones. Shunzo Ohno's sunny trumpet takes the front stage on the danceable "Night Walker", then the pace is growing faster on "Never Say Never" where Alphonse Mouzon plays a deep and tender trumpet just before going on an explosive drum solo full of vitality on "Canopus Octopus".

The album contains alternates version of "Whatever"(with Henry“The Skipper”Franklin on bass) and " Angel Face" with a nice soft tonality of strings weaved by Mouzon. As a whole, the perfect balance and proportioning of themes, gives“Angel Face”a classical aura of a major work of refined straight-ahead jazz that will please the most sophisticated ears, and takes a definite top place among what Alphonse Mouzon has created so far.