Toward the end of the fifth cut on the Kairos Sextet’s “Transition” album, a horn phrase so infectious and so tightly executed lets you know: this group is the real thing. I discovered later how appropriate that musical peak moment was. The track, “Triangle and Circles,” was written by Dafnis Prieto, the group’s mentor and executive producer, not to mention one of the greatest percussionists in jazz. In fact, the sextet began as the Dafnis Prieto Artist Ensemble at the University of Miami’s Frost School of Music, where all of the members studied under Prieto.
The Greek name may be ancient, but it’s highly appropriate; kairos means the right moment for action. The sextet is Sean Johnson (tenor saxophone), Nick Lamb (keyboards), Tom Kelley (saxophones), Sam Neufeld (trumpet), Jon Dadurka (bass) and Johnathan Hulett (drums). Johnson, Lamb, Kelley, and Dadurka all contribute strong tunes made stronger by adventurous arrangements. The common denominators here are gorgeous horn harmonies, high-flying solos, and just the right level of complexity.