By Ric Bang
Buy CD: Unified
Although Texas is best known for its country & western musicians, a surprising number of jazz artists hail from that state. Many have made the saxophone their instrument: Ornette Coleman, Arnett Cobb, Illinois Jacquet and Buddy Tate immediately come to mind.
Stan Killian plays that kind of jazz.
Killian spent his early years in his home state, attended Texas State University and freelanced in that area until moving to the East Coast. He worked in the Baltimore and D.C. area for awhile, before joining the jazz scene in New York City.
For this, his initial recording, he features two combos that consist of bassists Bryan Copeland and Corcoran Holt, pianist Benito Gonzalez, drummers Darrell Green and McClenty Hunter, trumpeters Jeremy Pelt and Roy Hargrove (the latter also a Texan), and alto saxman David Binney. Killian composed and arranged all but one of the tunes (“Elvin’s Sight”).
The groups play traditional, bop-tinged jazz that evokes what we used to hear from Miles Davis, Charlie Parker, John Coltrane and Wayne Shorter. Killian has been credited as a “Texas-style” tenor player, but he’s more smooth and musical than icons such as Jacquet and Cobb.
The album title, Unified, aptly describes the group’s sound and style. It all swings quite nicely, whether done at a waltz, 4/4 or 5/4 meter.
I love to hear this sort of stuff in a jazz venue, and the Big Apple has enough of those to keep these guys working steadily.