Who Are You?

Who Are You?

With his sophomore album for Blue Note, Brooklyn vibraphonist Joel Ross continues to refine a balance between his prodigious energy and technical skill as a soloist and his disarmingly simple, straightforward way with a melody as a composer. With the exception of the fast and fragmented staccato of “Marshland,” Ross’ originals have a patient way of unfolding, with long legato phrase development and yearning minor-key sonorities over kinetic bass and drums, yielding a shifting and asymmetric rhythmic sense (“Waiting on a Solemn Reminiscence,” “When My Head Is Cold,” “More?”). His flowing unisons and traded choruses with alto saxophonist Immanuel Wilkins create a signature sound, while pianist Jeremy Corren handles intricate parts and brings the solo fire as well. Bassist Kanoa Mendenhall is firm yet flexible alongside the rocket-like force of drummer Jeremy Dutton; together they hit every nuance and push every improvised flight higher. Harpist Brandee Younger extends the harmonic and tonal palette on several tracks, including the great John Coltrane tone poem “After the Rain” and the elegant “Gato’s Gift,” cowritten by Ross and woodwinds player Gabrielle Garo. The band also ventures a thrilling interpretation of trumpeter Ambrose Akinmusire’s “Vartha.”

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