Crossing

Ben Kono Group

"Multi-instrumentalist Ben Kono...is a consummate sideman, known for his contributions to some of the hipper New York big bands and his dazzling dexterity on a host of wind instruments, but on Crossing, his debut as a leader, he stands on his own merits as a composer and stylist. Joined by Henry Hey (keyboards), Pete McCann (guitars) and John Hollenbeck (drums), with Heather Laws (voice, French horn), the date boasts hard-hitting tracks with impressive blowing. Standouts include the epic “Paradise in Manzanar” featuring Kono’s compelling English horn, the funky “Rice” with its dense but never cluttered textures and the striking tenor solo on the title track, which grows from a small, three-note cell into a monolithic edifice."--Tom Greenland The New York City Jazz Record, March 2011

"This potent sextet outing by composer and multi-instrumentalist Ben Kono unfolds like separate chapters of a novel, each revealing something about it's author. The opening "Castles and Daffodils," reflecting Kono's interest in modern conservatory music, finds him overdubbing a latticework pattern of oboe, English horn, flute and clarinet before drummer John Hollenbeck, bassist John Hébert, keyboardist Henry Hey and guitarist Pete McCann enter the fray. Heather Laws' ethereal wordless vocals add to the evocative nature of this stirring piece, which is dedicated to the composer's late father. On the 5/4 swinger "Common Ground," Kono switches to tenor sax and channels Michael Brecker, while "Rice" has him soaring on flute over Hollenbeck's insistent drum-'n'-bass groove. The dramatic "Paradise in Manzanar," a somber reflection on the internment of Japanese-Americans during WWII, is a through-composed suite. Featuring the leader on English horn, the work resolves on an energized note of hope."--Bill Milkowski, Jazz Times, April 2011

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