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Ben Wendel: 'The Seasons'

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Thursday November 15, 2018

From JazzTimes

Ben Wendel: The Seasons (Motéma)
By: Britt Robson

Wendel’s writing has a playful sophistication easily wielded in a duo setting. The top-notch quintet on The Seasons necessarily opts for aggressive nuance, with exacting decisions about layering or laying out amid the melodies and ensuing solos. In this way, the saxophone shadowboxing between Wendel and Joshua Redman on “February” in 2015 erupts into a torrid but neatly arced fusion romp in the 2018 quintet version. By contrast, the quietude of Wendel’s bassoon and Brewer’s bass in duet remains at the core of the quintet interplay. And “November” retains its contemplative ambience from the original Wendel-Parks exchange of 2015 before the wistful blues billows outward with organic ease. That sunny uplift is especially apparent on The Seasons’ rendition of “July” (originally a Wendel duet with Julian Lage), which has a beguiling sway like a branch heavy with fruit, nudged by the force of Harland’s rapid beats as Parks, Hekselman, and Wendel each offer luxuriating solos.

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