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Album review: 'Connect the Dots'


The Verve Jazz Ensemble

'Connect the Dots'

LightGroove Media

When I first put on The Verve Jazz Ensemble's "Connect the Dots," I couldn't help thinking it must be some generic group the famous label threw together. But during the opening tune, Lalo Shifrin's "Bistro," I found myself thinking, who is this great flute player? I looked at the credits and found that it was Eastman School of Music graduate Alexa Tarantino. Maybe you remember her blowing everyone away when she soloed on saxophone with Earth, Wind & Fire at the jazz festival a few years ago. As a newer member of The Verve Jazz Ensemble, Tarantino adds some great alto sax on many of this album's tracks.

It turns out the group's been around since 2006 with core members Jon Blanck on sax, drummer Josh Feldstein, Tatum Greenblatt on trumpet; pianist Steve Einerson, and bassist Elias Bailey. Another featured guest is the excellent trombonist Willie Applewhite. Tunes range from adventurous originals to classics like Cole Porter's "Love for Sale," and every performance is a gem.