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Justin Janer - Following the Signs

Justin Janer -|- Following the Signs – [Janer Music, 2010] – Review –

Following the Signs,” by the Grammy-nominated Seattle born LA raised saxophonist Justin Janer pours his soul through the rim of cool steel with power, and grace in a finely progressive tone which echoes the scrupulous nuances that are readily accessible to those who eagerly pursue jazz in this context.

Out the box, Janer solidifies his position as a promising young songwriter with a tune titled “Bright New Day.” Accompanied by a stellar cast including the gifted Ambrose Akinmusire on trumpet, Fabian Almazan – piano, Sebastian Cruz plays guitar on “Fidelity,” Ruben Samama – bass, Michael W. Davis – drums on “Following the Signs, Fidelity, Loss, & California Sky” and Will Clark – plays drums on “Bright New Day, Alice in Wonderland & Bump.” Janer on “Bright New Day” navigates his way slowly through the passages with playful harmonic fluidity joined by the impressive interplay of his splendid cast adds a seasoned touch of modern bopology which accentuates this gorgeous portrait of sounds.

The bluesy title “Following the Steps,” illuminates from inside out through the darken textures of Janer’s alto to embark on an incisive dialogue expanding the potential and uncanny ability as comrades to explore jazz of this quality.

Alice in Wonderland” isn’t what I assumed it would be initially. The cohesive harmony of Akinmusire [trumpet] and Janer blend in a symphony of oneness to awaken the modular shapes that encompasses a fusion of fiery bop-like chops and incredible interplay by this persistent ensemble.

Guitarist Sebastian Cruz holds down position as lead soloist on “Fidelity” at the fourth spot. The shimmering, colorful and playful melodies are prominent here with depth that I hadn’t met thus far.

After studying with the following esteem saxophonist like Steve Wilson, David Liebman, Vincent Herring, and Lee Konitz one can clearly hear the influences resonating in the voice of Janer’s Puerto Rican heritage throughout this engagement.

Like many of his peers, Janer feels quite at home playing ballads. On the thought-provoking musings of “Song for Suji” Janer implores an inviting symmetry that’s spacious and stimulating in timbre. The introspective altitude of this gem is intimate in tone as it gently transforms gracefully into a masterpiece titled “Loss.”

Janer and company approaches “California Sky” with a sense of relentless propensity. Tempo wise, the musicality of this jewel is absolutely invigorating.

The vigorous anthem of “Bump,” is the most intriguing from an improvisational perspective by far. Janer and the crew bring exciting chemistry into the fold with this the final selection as you hear unrivaled emotion seep through their voices with great rewards.

Bravo to Justin Janer the winner of the Downbeat Magazine Outstanding Soloist award for leading the way with his debut “Following the Signs.” In fact, I say this because he could have easily taken the path that brings wider acceptance and financial gain yet he opt as a young artist to advance his compositions and arrangements from the wealth of his understated passion without leaning to far traditionally yet he literally pushes the envelope from his point of view. In other words, saxophonist Justin Janer justly keeps his sound relevant for the on-growing appetites of modern jazz enthusiasts.

Rob Young | The Urban Flux

Visit www.justinjaner.com for more details about this promising young musician!