"art & soul"
If you've ever wondered where all of those great musicians in Eastman School of Music jazz ensembles go, saxophonist Kirsten Edkins can serve as one answer. After studying with Walt Weiskopf, Ray Ricker, Bill Dobbins and others at Eastman, she's played with jazz greats like Arturo Sandoval and Albert "Tootie" Heath and pop legends like Stevie Wonder and Smokey Robinson. She brings all of that experience to the table on her wonderful debut album, "art & soul."
In addition to her prowess on tenor, alto, and soprano saxes, Edkins is a top-flight composer and arranger who explores a range of styles, from funky organ-based works to more complex, hard-bop tunes. (The one gorgeous cover is Mal Waldron's "Soul Eyes.") While her core group includes the album's second star, Larry Goldings, on piano and Hammond B3, Mike Valerio on bass and Mark Ferber, drums, there are superb solos on various cuts by Larry Koonse on guitar; Mike Cottone, trumpet; Ryan Dragon, trombone and her mentor and producer Bob Sheppard on sax and bass clarinet.