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Jane Ira Bloom - Early Americans / Positive Feedback review

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I'm not sure why I started hearing the late Maximillian Schell's heavily accented voice in my head the first time I listened to Jane Ira Bloom's new CD, Early Americans. I suspect it had something to do with reviewing Todd Hunter's Eat, Drink, Play just a few weeks ago and instantly declaring it the first contemporary jazz masterwork I've heard in many years. The obvious answer is that I've had my head buried in the classics for so long that I'm totally out of touch with what's going on right now in the world of jazz. The less obvious answer has to do with kismet, fate, luck, whatever you want to call it.

I said one contemporary jazz classic in 2016, here are two!

I should have expected no less from Jane Ira Bloom. I reviewed her last album, Sixteen Sunsets, back in 2013 and I found her to be the anti-Kenny G, the thinking jazz fan's soprano sax player. That album focused on the Great American Songbook, a softer more approachable collection of ballads that were still lightly kissed by a dry, slightly unyielding pair of lips. Those interpretations seemed to suggest that while love was in the air, we have to have a talk first. Nothing is that simple baby, especially when it comes to jazz.    

Early Americans features mostly original compositions by Bloom, and for that reason it scales even higher peaks. She easily tackles the difficult task of making jazz that blazes trails without completely abandoning the more familiar structures of the genre. This is no free jazz freak-out, but carefully measured forays into a frontier. While Todd Hunter's new album is fun and energetic and chock full of flawless performances, Bloom's trio (Mark Helias on bass, Bobby Previte on drums) is more cerebral in its approach-this is a bone-dry martini compared to Hunter's lusty shot of tequila.

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