****RINGER OF THE WEEK****Sherman Irby & Momentum: Cerulean Canvas

Alto saxist Sherman Irby has carved out a successful career starting with the Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra and Roy Hargrove before going out on his own. But somewhere along the way the smooth toned alto saxist started taking his Charles Mingus pills, as this latest album sounds like a modernized version of vintage sounds from the iconic bassist.

The core team consists of Eric Reed/p, Gerald Cannon/b and Willie Jones II/dr and then rotates around with Vincent Gardnder/tb, Elliot Mason/tb and ex-boss Wynton Marsalis/tp for a rich roller coaster ride. Mingus’ attitude is demonstrated early, with the shifting tempos mixing between blues, bebop and field hollers on “Racine” and churchified call and responses on the full gospel feeling “Blues For Poppa Reed,” both with contrasts between  Irby’s silky reed and Gardner’s agonizing Knepper-inspired ‘bone serving like a sweet and sour sauce.

Irby glows like a full moon on “From Day To Day” and “Contemplation” along with Mason’s buttery brass, while Marsalis joins in on the greasy joy of “John Bishop Blues.” Even the dash of New Orleans frivolity hints at Mingus, as the bassist loved jamming on pieces such as the celebratory “Sweet Georgia Brown” delivered here, while the closing “SYBAD” swings with sublime subtlety  as Reed touches the ivories with the care of a newborn’s mother.

This is an album that you’re going to love, and want to keep playing back over and over for a multitude of reasons and levels of appreciation.


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