Johnston/Shelton/Mezzacappa/Nordeson: Cylinder

This disc features Aram Shelton, leader of his own fantastic release from 2011, and the exciting trumpet player Darren Johnston. It has many great moments, and from track to track is as good as anything that has been produced in recent years, but taken as a whole statement, an album rather than a set of cuts, the parts don’t quite mesh. As fine as “The Deep Discipline “ or “ Sink Town“ are, their juxtaposition saps some attention and energy from each.
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Cylinder is a cooperative group, which is a strength and a weakness. The former is displayed in how finely they player together, how powerful the support and communication between each is. The weakness can be heard in that there seem to be at least three different records here, each making a strong statement. As sympathetic as the parts may be to each other, there is a disjointed feeling in listening, as the music goes from AACM style free-roots playing to music that comes out of the legacy of the more modern blues-with-composition ideas of some of the great mid-1960s Blue Note records. Full of great material and eminently promising; I’d like to see this group find a little bit more mutual focus, then look out.

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