****RINGER OF THE WEEK****Brian McCarthy Nonet: The Better Angels of Our Nature

Brian McCarthy plays alto and soprano sax, and brings together three more saxes in Daniel Ian Smith/ts-ss, Stantawn Kendrick/ts and Andrew Gutauskas/bs along with a brass section of Bill Mobley/tp-fh and Cameron MacManus/tb and a rhythm team of Matt Aronoff/b, Justin Kauflin/p and Zach Harmon/dr. The album focuses on the reconciliation of America due to the Civil War conflict, and the message, as well as the music, couldn’t come at a better time.

With the title emanating from Abraham Lincoln’s favorite speech, songs like “The Bonnie Blue Flag” and “Shiloh” represent both sides of the Mason Dixon Line thematically, while the music is filled with lovely swing along with Gutauskas’ bari on the former and Smiths’ soprano on the latter. A bopping take of “Battle Hymn of the Republic” as well as a rollicking and free “I Wish I Was in Dixie’s Land” has the team delivering a mix of rich sax section work along with some wild Coltrane solos. The title track is a post bop delight, while Kendrick’s tenor sax is warm on the thoughtful “Oh Freedom.” Rewarding and thought provoking on a plethora of levels


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