Thursday, October 19, 2017

Brian Landrus: Generations

BlueLand Records
By Ric Bang
Buy CD: Generations

I got turned on to baritone sax after hearing Serge Chaloff, who played that instrument in Woody Herman’s second herd. That unit’s reed section set the standard for all subsequent big bands. Gerry Mulligan arrived on the scene next; his prowess truly cemented that horn’s importance to jazz. More great artists have followed those two, but one who really stands out is Brian Landrus, the musician/composer featured on this release.

Landrus plays all of the low woodwind instruments: baritone and bass saxophones, bass clarinet and flute. He’s also a gifted and prodigious composer. He began to play professionally at 15, earned master’s degrees in music and composition from New England Conservatory, and currently is finishing a doctorate in composition at Rutgers University. 

Generations, Landrus’ newest release, is an artistic and compositional tour de force. It features a 25-piece orchestra that contains the basic instrumentation of a big band, along with horns more commonly found in symphonic groups (oboe, bassoon, tuba, etc.), strings (violin, viola, cello), a harp and a vibraphone. The music is presented in a dozen segments: five movements presented as the “Jeru Concerto” (Gerry Mulligan’s nickname); and seven stand-alone tunes that reflect individuals or elements of Landrus’ life. These are titled “Orchids,” “The Warrior,” “Arrow In The Night,” “Arise,” “Human Nature,” “Ruby” and “Every Time I Dream.” 

I lack descriptors accurate enough to describe the impact and excellence of this album’s music. It’s in a class of its own, and must be heard time and again to appreciate.

Generations is amazing concert jazz. Do not miss it!

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