Brandee Younger, “Linda Lee” – listen here!
If it feels like we’ve been waiting a while for Soul Awakening, the latest from harpist and composer Brandee Younger, that impression is justified: the music was recorded some six years ago. Considering that Younger is releasing the album herself, there were surely some practical reasons for this delay.
Thankfully, the wait is almost over. (After all, we haven’t been getting any Younger! Folks, I’ll be here all week.)
In all seriousness, Soul Awakening, which releases on June 7, is a persuasive statement by an artist coming into her own. It includes one composition apiece by Younger’s two harp totems, Dorothy Ashby and Alice Coltrane — and features Alice’s son, saxophonist Ravi Coltrane, on a pair of tracks. But the important thing to note about the album is its unassuming surety of purpose. Younger has internalized the spirit-filled lessons of her predecessors, reconciling them with her distinctly contemporary point of view.
A case in point is “Linda Lee,” which Younger named after her mother, Linda Lee McNease-Younger. Set over a sort of funk march, courtesy of drummer EJ Strickland, it has a wistful post-bop melody played in octaves by trumpeter Freddie Hendrix and tenor saxophonist Chelsea Baratz. The horns improvise together, not so much in call-and-response as in a braided strand. Holding everything together is the collaboration at the album’s core: Younger, with her arpeggios and glissandi, and bassist Dezron Douglas, who also served as producer.
Brandee Younger appears at the Blue Note Jazz Club in New York on Tuesday (featuring Ravi Coltrane) and Wednesday (featuring Nicholas Payton). She will also perform atSummerStage on June 15, with Coltrane, bassist Matthew Garrison and drummer Jack DeJohnette.