Review: Brian Horton's “Brand New Day” a great listen

Sep. 12, 2013 @ 01:21 PM

Brian Horton,

 “Brand New Day” (released by artist)

Saxophonist Brian Horton graduated in 1997 from N.C. Central University with a degree in jazz performance. He now is a visiting teacher in that program, but listeners might know him for his work with percussionist Winard Harper, and his many playing dates in the Triangle.
His release “Brand New Day” will confirm what listeners who have heard Horton already know about his fine playing, and for those not familiar, this recording is a great introduction to Horton’s saxophone playing and his gifts as a composer.
There’s so much joy to be taken from these sessions, which are rooted not just in the jazz and blues traditions, but in gospel. Horton, who plays tenor and soprano saxes and flute, is joined by Ernest Turner on piano, Ameen Saleem on bass and Kobie Watkins on drums. After Turner’s opening notes on the title tune, Horton comes in on tenor, and you feel like you are next to the bell of Horton’s saxophone. When Saleem and Turner come in, this moderate tempo piece has that in-church feel. “Sound of Celebration” has a quicker tempo, and Turner’s piano chords give it a warm gospel sound.
“B Train in A Flat” is an up-tempo blues that kicks, with solos from Turner and Saleem, as well as Horton’s playing on soprano. “Mother’s Day” is a masterpiece of subtlety: Turner plays an opening shuffle in the stride style. Then Horton comes in playing the theme, with understated accompaniment from the bass and drums. Saleem then locks into a solid, walking bass line, and Horton leans into the notes in a way that pays tribute to Johnny Hodges and the many forerunners of this instrument. The band pumps up the volume, then quiets down for the final chord.
The recording ends with a gospel-influenced “Our Fellowship,” a piano solo with a wonderful surprise ending – a suitable roundup to a great record. But don’t take my word for it. Go hear him this weekend.

Go and Do
: Brian Horton Quartet, release concert for Horton’s new CD “Brand New Day
WHEN: Saturday, 8 p.m.
WHERE: Cary Arts Center, 101 Dry Ave., Cary