Wax & Wane
concert harp, Anne Drummond concert and alto flutes, Chelsea Baratz tenor sax, Mark Whitfield guitar, Dezron Douglas electric bass, Dana Hawkins drums and percussion.
Evoking the musical equivalent of rare gems, Brandee Younger emerges from the legacies of Dorothy Ashby and Alice Coltrane as she ushers in a new era that celebrates the unsung titan of string instruments. Born during the REVIVE Music and Blue Note Records sessions for “Supreme Sonacy Vol. 1,” Younger’s latest album, “Wax & Wane” is a testament to her musical forebears that fuses classical technique with the persistent groove at the core of the Black music canon.
“‘Wax & Wane’ represents constant change -- back and forth,” says Younger. “We chose it as the title of the project because it is truly representative of the human experience, as an artist and individual. The high points and low points coloring the continuous struggle for balance at every phase of the journey exist - as they do in daily life - at the core of all of my work. ‘Wax and Wane’ is also the name of one of Dorothy Ashby’s compositions from her album ‘The Rubaiyat of Dorothy Ashby’.”
With “Wax & Wane,” Brandee Younger is poised to take her place as a sonic tour de force and the latest innovator in a lineage of groundbreaking musical agitators leading to the rise of the harp. Spiritually transcendent and perennially fresh, “Wax & Wane” strikes a delicate balance between pushing the envelope and flat out breaking the mold. “I wanted to place the harp in a totally different context than what listeners are generally accustomed to and continue to position the harp in way that’s relevant today,” says Younger. With this seven track collection, Younger presents an altered universe where the fluttering polyphonic exchange of the harp and flute expand and contract against a dense rhythmic display."
JAZZ NIGHT IN AMERICA
NEW YORK TIMES
"Wax & Wane, Ms. Younger’s sleek, assured new album, luxuriates in groove: It’s the latest statement from a jazz generation weaned on hip-hop producers like J Dilla. But the album is also a genuflection, featuring three songs associated with Ms. Ashby, including the title track." Read full feature here.
ALL ABOUT JAZZ
"Brandee Younger retrofits the consciousness of the '70s with today's neo-soul attitude and musical mannerisms on this concise and fulfilling date. Her work is sleek and attractive, with bubbling beats, glossed-over saxophone and flute lines, and shimmering harp runs coalescing to create a finished product that's wholly refined. But the music also oozes raw energy. That pairing of the slick and strong seems to be what Younger is all about. " Full feature here.
"Wax & Wane is decidedly more funk than jazz; its opening track, “Soul Vibrations,” is built on a groove that recalls Sly & the Family Stone, and Younger blends into the ensemble at first, rather than immediately seizing the lead. But when she does begin to solo, her sound is otherworldly and science-fictional, and her ability to pluck individual notes at high speed is almost reminiscent of a fusion-era guitarist rather than the shimmering glissandos typical of the harp (though she does that, too)." Full feature here.
"Wax & Wane perfectly illustrates the originality of the creative thinking Younger - not just aa performer, but also as a composer." Full review here.
"While it will be up to the history books to judge the importance of Brandee Younger’s latest release, Wax & Wane, the album certainly sounds like a fresh interpretation of the role that the instrument can play in contemporary jazz." Full review here.
"Wax & Wane finds Brandee expanding upon what's considered "jazz." While predecessors like Coltrane and Dorothy Ashby worked within a certain aesthetic, Brandee's style is colored with different elements, including electronic, soul and funk influences." Full feature here.
RAUL DA GAMA
JAZZ DA GAMA
Brandee Younger’s 2016 disc Wax & Wanefeatures a marvellous performance by a truly great young artist. It brings the otherworldly beauty of the concert harp with the visceral excitement of jazz. Full review here.
"Whether you call it pushing the envelope, thinking outside the box, or just plain bending the rules, the boldly independent harpist and composer Brandee Younger creates a genre-crossing, smart, soulful, freewheeling, happy hybrid of hipness." Full feature here.
"Her sophomore project is described as a fusion of Jazz, Hip Hop & Funk and I call it a “must listen” for any fans of her idol Dorothy Ashby. We discuss her idols, the obstacles of toting a Harp to gigs, her upcoming album and much more!" Full feature here.
"it will refresh and delight your ears all around you - here you are in Eden! Soulful and delicious, mead is this sound that fills you with wellness." Full feature here.
SMOOTH JAZZ VIBES
"Walking in the footsteps of Alice Coltrane and Dorothy Ashby, harpist Brandee Younger released her sophomore album with Wax & Wane, following her great live set Live @ The Breeding Ground (2014) which was a loose and jazzy affair. This new studio album is much more focused and definitely funky, with nice flute by Anne Drummond. Check it out!" See here.
"With a non-stop groove that doesn't need to knock your socks off propelling things nicely, this is the real deal throughout that has it all on the ball. Excellent!" Read here.
"Brandee Younger is redefining her instrument for 21st Century. She pays respect to the original Afro-Harpist Dorothy Ashby with her recording Wax & Wane plus shares music from her indie hip hop collaborations with Mack Wilds and Common." Stream the full program here.
"Wax and Wane firmly situates Younger's shrewdly deployed celestial glissandos and nimble improvisation in sync with a crew of crack musicians, expertly balancing instinctive groove and finely honed virtuosity." Full feature here.
"Her lively pizzicato works well on a modern classical sound during “Ruby Echo” and she takes you to Asian atmospheres on the more spacious strums of “Ebony Haze.” A hint of Shaft gets grooving on “Soul Vibrations” and Hawkins delivers a heavy backbeat on “Essence of Ruby.” Sharp harp!" Full review here.
BIRD IS THE WORM
"Younger is showing all kinds of promise with her recordings to date, and it’s a seriously positive sign about the strength of the modern jazz scene that albums like Wax and Waneare getting a share of the spotlight." Full review here.
SMOOTH JAZZ DAILY
Younger is one of the few harpists who’ve established themselves as adept jazz players. “I wanted to place the harp in a totally different context than what listeners are generally accustomed to,” she says, “and continue to position the harp in a way that’s relevant today.” With Wax and Wane, she is doing exactly that." Full review here.
THE VILLAGE VOICE
"Somewhere beyond the fairy forests and angel wings that harp music traditionally evokes lies Brandee Younger’s rebellion. She’s classically trained, but a typical week for her is more likely to include a jazz jam session one night and a hip-hop studio recording the next afternoon. There’s no room for coyness in her music, although her eyes betray a glimmer of mischief when she plays — which she’s done for everyone from Alice Coltrane’s family to world- famous rappers." Full feature here.
"And, no, she doesn’t ignore the lineage of her instrument: Harpist Dorothy Ashby’s ‘60s transition from swing to soul jazz is present, as is Alice Coltrane’s ‘70s shift from avant-garde to spiritual jazz. But on Wax & Wane, Younger runs those influences through the lens of modern groove and present-day melodies. It’s why her singular sound is so very today, even as the echoes of her jazz harpist forebears reverberate through each tune." Full feature here.
"A solemn prayer to her afro-harping forebears, the album is a fanfare of flight and fancy that speaks to the possibility of Younger's apparent dexterity and the potential of every leader willing to burn the rule book in order to push the culture forward." Full feature here.
"What you do get from listening to this CD is the feeling that Younger is staking a very strong claim for the harp as solo instrument and making a clear statement of intent for her development as a major voice in jazz." Full feature here.
"Performer and venue are well matched when harpist Younger unfurls celestial tones in Hyde Park Union Church. Even apart from the setting, there’s no mistaking the spirituality at the core of Younger’s performance." Read the full performance review here.
NEW YORK TIMES
"Ms. Younger’s harp playing can be airy or imagistic, but it’s usually grounded in a groove. Over the past decade, she’s proven adept at bringing the instrument into contexts where it had rarely gone: jazz infused with neo-soul; springy post-bop; experiments alongside Afro-Cuban improvisers." Read the full critics pick here.