May 29, 2012
It’s a treat to hear a musician coming into his own. A few listens to Journeyman, the second CD release from Brandon Wright, gives you a chance to hear a saxophonist who has the verve and fire to become a major player. His debut CD, Boiling Point, featured his tenor sax alongside trumpeter Alex Sipiagin. Two years later, he’s the sole front man in a quartet with David Kikoski (piano); Boris Kozlov (bass); and Donald Edwards (drums).
The New Jersey native has been a solid contributor and soloist with the Mingus Big Band, as well as ensembles led by Chico O’Farrill, Doc Severinson, Chuck Mangione, and Max Weinberg.
Journeyman is a mix of Wright originals and inventive covers, including tunes from the soundtrack of The Muppets Take Manhattan and by rock bands Oasis and Pearl Jam. The veteran pianist Kikoski, who played with Wright in the Mingus Big Band, helps hold together the band, which gives as good as it gets from Wright’s driving sax.
I spoke with Brandon the day Journeyman was released, and his enthusiasm for the band, the record and his future are clear from our conversation. Click here to listen to our discussion, including musical selections:
Brandon Wright – “Walk of Shame” from Journeyman. A slice of funk (Wright often gigs with James Brown/P-Funk legend Fred Wesley) that allows drummer Edwards to set the tone right off the top.
Mingus Big Band – “New Now Know How” from Live at the Jazz Standard. Both bassist Kozlov and pianist Kikoski took home Grammy Awards for this New Year’s Eve 2009 recording. Kikoski shares solos with Randy Brecker and Kenny Rampton on this Charles Mingus tune.
Brandon Wright – “Better Man” from Journeyman. A teenager in the nineties, Wright has let that side show with covers of Stone Temple Pilots on Boiling Point, and Pearl Jam and Oasis on Journeyman. He takes a melodic approach to the tune, showing that there may soon be a whole new set of candidates for the position of contemporary classics in the modern jazz repertoire.
Abraham Inc. – Title Track from Tweet Tweet. Wright is a key player in this multicultural combo led by Klezmer clarinetist David Krakauer, funk legend Fred Wesley and rapper Socalled. Guitarist Sheryl Bailey joins in on this track.