Jazz CD Reviews
Anthony Branker and Ascent – Spirit Songs – (Antonio Hart- Alto Saxophone; Ralph Bowen- Tenor and Soprano Saxophone; Clifford Adams- Trombone; Jonny King-Piano; John Benitez- Bass; Ralph Peterson- Drums) – Sons of Sound
Published on April 18, 2006
The sextet Ascent has put together a fine collection of Anthony Branker compositions called Spirit Songs, each song imbued with a liberal dose of lyricism and melody. Standout players include Ralph Bowen, whose tenor and soprano saxophone lines float out as easily and sweetly as a bird’s song; and Clifford Adams, whose trombone playing utilizes that instrument’s low range in a way that wonderfully compliments the other players.
Branker’s compositions range from the Herbie Hancock-esqe “Chant for Peace Eternal” to the almost hard bop of “Spirit Song” to the Gil Evans-like arrangement of “Sketches of Selim.” Branker also experiments with various percussive motifs, including the shimmering Latin swing of “Sketches of Selim” to the reggae backbeat of “Imani (Faith).” Ascent clearly reveres Branker and his heartfelt compositions; these are jazz songs you’re meant to feel, with the kind of transcedent, emotional solos that even non-jazz fans can sense contain something special.
– Dan Krow