New York-based Stan Killian’s tenor saxophone voice can be described as pensive with influences of Trane, Mobley, Griffin, and Getz. His colors are rich and they burn in a quiet fire of long, unbroken lines, so it would seem Killian’s style settles best in a ballad - as it does on the title track “Unified” (heard live below). Yet he proves us wrong with his versatility; in “Isosceles” we hear Killian quickly reveal that he can play tempos others may not attempt.
Of the 7 tracks on this CD, all are Killian’s original compositions except for “Elvin’s Sight”, a Latin-tinged, funky post-bop groove written by Venezuelan piano player Benito Gonzalez. Composition styles range from wistful and lyrical to grinding and percussive, each imbued with inviting melodies and utterly beautiful, sometimes slanted harmonies passed between soloists as accessible motifs.
Apart from partner Gonzalez on piano, who plays in every track, wonderfully talented musicians join Killian’s fine group. Trumpeters Roy Hargrove and Jeremy Pelt, drummers McClenty Hunter and Darrell Green, and bassists Bryan Copeland and Corcoran Holt all help keep the music alive and on edge and contribute some very captivating improvisational interplay. In short, Killian’s original tunes and lush melodies are interesting and catchy enough that we can’t help but recommend - no, guarantee - this album for any jazz lover. Listen to “Isosceles” in the sidebar to see why.
The Texas-born, New York-based tenor saxophonist Stan Killian is the latest in a long line of saxophonists blessed with the legendary “Texas Tenor” sound – from Arnett Cobb and James Clay to Wilton Felder and Illinois Jacquet; all master hornsmen who played with a big-toned, bravura sound of wide open spaces that covers the blues, the bayou, bop, the past, and the present. A seasoned professional, Killian has gigged with many of today’s brightest stars including Luis Perdomo, Antonio Sanchez, Gene Jackson, Eric Revis, Mike Moreno, Ben Monder, and Scott Colley. Killian steps into the spotlight as a leader on this aurally auspicious Sunnyside debut, Unified.
With a saxophone spirit reminiscent of Illinois Jacquet, Arnett Cobb, and James Clay, the twenty-first-century Texas Tenor, Stan Killian seeks to modernize this rich lineage by developing a highly personalized compositional approach coupled with a consistent group sound steeped in simpatico and interplay.
The fusion of world rhythms and straight-ahead jazz make this passionate performer an audience favorite all over the world. Benito Gonzalez is being recognized as an exciting pianist and composer for his well-received debut album, “Starting Point” (Christian McBride, Antonio Sanchez, Rene McLean, Ron Blake) and as winner of the 2005 Great American Jazz Piano Competition.
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