Cincinnati-born baritone saxophonist B.J. Jansen’s tenth album is titled Common Ground for good reason: his sextet consists of NEA Jazz Master trombonist Delfeayo Marsalis, drummer Ralph Peterson, trumpeter Duane Eubanks, pianist Zaccai Curtis, and bassist Dezron Douglas—all of whom revel in improvisation. His group’s shared affinity for jazz in the straight-ahead vein compelled Jansen to employ a “hands-off” tactic as leader, prompting the end product’s great diversity of playing and style. The album has its post- bop pieces, hard bop workouts, Coltrane-esque spirituals, and mellifluous ballads, constituting an album that sounds classic, yet modern in its permissive borrowing from jazz’s past.
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