Sam Braysher ‘Golden Earrings’ (Fresh Sound New Talent) 4/5

Enterprising Barcelona label has championed the historical legacy of jazz for some thirty or more years in its myriad genres and the sheer quality of the back catalogue re-issue series has set an extremely high standard for others to follow, but possibly less well know is its more recent sister label that has been devoted to showcasing new talent. In the process, this has introduced the wider world to young musicians who have gone on to achieve greater success, including pianists Brad Mehldau and Robert Glasper and trumpeter Ambrose Akinmusire, to mention just three of the most distinguished among them. For this latest recording made in Brooklyn, young alto saxophonist Sam Braysher is accompanied by a seasoned veteran, pianist Michael Kanan, and their duet pairing follows in the longer tradition of Stan Getz and Kenny Barron, or Hank Jones and Joe Lovano. Composer of the calibre of Tadd Dameron, Duke Ellington and Jerome Kern all feature, but what this writer warmed to was the selection of the less obvious repertoire.

A vibrant recording sound brings this music alive and there is just the right balance of Great American songbook standards, and a fine original by the leader on ‘BSP’. The empathy between Braysher and Kanan is evident from the start, and they both play off one another and in unison as and when required. Never needing to resort to cliché, the music has a freshness and opens up new avenues, as on ‘In Love In Vain’, which in the introductory passage has echoes of ‘April in Paris’, with inspired passages from the saxophonist.

Michael Kanan has a natural talent for accompanying and this is evidenced by his work with singers Jimmy Scott and Jane Monheit, as well as with instrumental leaders such as Peter Bernstein and Kurt Rosenwinkel. Discovering him in this pared down setting is one of the many pleasures that this fine recording offers up. A personal favourite is the wonderful medley of Irving Berlin songs, while a relaxed treatment of the music from the film soundtrack to ‘Band Wagon’, is another highlight.

Tim Stenhouse