by Phil Freeman, Stereogum

Saxophonist Brent Birckhead, a sometime member of Lauryn Hill’s touring band, makes his debut as a leader here, backed by pianist Mark Meadows, bassist Romeir Mendez, and drummer Caroll Dashiell III, with guest appearances from guitarist Samir Moulay and trombonist Corey Wallace. Birckhead is a soulful, R&B-style saxophonist with a smooth but frequently emotional delivery. His bandmates match his energy; Dashiell hits hard, more like a rock drummer than a jazz drummer, while Meadows pounds out big, florid chords and Mendez maintains a steady, booming pulse. “The Mourning After” is the middle section of the three-part “Suite 187,” dedicated to Freddie Gray, who died while in police custody in Baltimore in 2015. On the album, it comes between a fierce hard bop blowout, “The Witching Hour,” and a gentle, somber version of Donny Hathaway’s “Someday We’ll All Be Free.”

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