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ALBUM REVIEW: "Dialectics"


Curtis Nowosad


Cellar Live

Drummer Curtis Nowosad has enhanced the bands of Dave Douglas, Miguel Zenón, Donny McCaslin, and others. Now he's showcasing his own musical vision on his excellent debut album, "Dialectics." The CD sleeve is modeled after a record cover from the late 1950's, complete with small-print liner notes and a boxed track list worthy of time travel. The good news: the album is a furious blowing session worthy of that golden-years-of-hard-bop connection.

The session kicks off with the front line of saxophonist Jimmy Greene and trumpeter Derrick Gardner on a rousing rendition of Wayne Shorter's "Speak No Evil," one of three covers. On those and the six original compositions by Nowosad, pianist Will Bonness and bassist Steve Kirby fill out the group, supplying superb accompaniment and the occasional solo. Echoing the greats of the 1950's, Nowosad bases many of his tunes on the chords of standards. The album reminds us that no one has found a formula better than the traditional one used here: a catchy head played by the horns, followed by blistering solos, all supported by a relentlessly swinging rhythm section.