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Friday, July 22, 2016

Meridian Arts Ensemble, Seven Kings

I happen to love contemporary new music for brass ensemble, so the new Meridian Arts Ensemble album Seven Kings (Innova 943) immediately got my interest. It is a standout selection of compositions played with excellence in every way. Plus the group has as a regular member percussionist-drum set artist John Ferrari and that allows them to straddle jazz-rock oriented movements with dynamic ease and brings a new texture into the mix at other times with well-conceived percussion parts. Finally, trumpet ace Dave Ballou guests on the album to add some definite zing and to thicken the sound.

The compositions hold and keep interest levels high. Ensemble member Daniel Grabois opens the program with a jazzy "Migration." This is sophisticated, involved modern music that sounds just right for the ensemble and the same can be said of the other works on the program: David Sanford's title piece, Dave Ballou's own "For Brass Quintet and Percussion," Edward Jacobs' "Passed Time," Robert Maggio's five movement "Revolver." Neo-classical elements rub shoulders with avant, harmonically advanced sounds and contemporary jazz influenced flourishes.

It is all first-rate music played by a crack brass ensemble. If that sounds good to you, I think you will love the program as I do. Listen and get entranced!

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