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Saturday, October 11, 2008

CD Review: Shawn Maxwell - Originals II

Shawn Maxwell – Originals II
2008, Dangerous Curve Productions

Shawn Maxwell is a teacher, composer, arranger and talented multi-instrumentalist (Saxophone, Clarinet & Flute). He has performed all over the world, and is a regular on the Chicago jazz scene. His band, Matt Nelson (piano); Graham Czach (bass) and Brandon Dickert (drums) is an incredibly tight and talented outfit that has assisted Maxwell masterfully in realizing the fullness of his musical vision. On Originals II, Maxwell continues to break new ground somewhere in the space between traditional and progressive jazz.

Originals II opens with Rice, a post-modern European sounding Jazz tune featuring Maxwell on saxophone. The real star of this tune though is the piano work, which is sublime. Year Three is one of the more interesting pieces here, revolving around a meandering flute lead. This is not a high energy tune, and at over eight minutes gets bogged down at times. The bowed bass lead in the middle is something of a treat, and the pace certainly picks up in the second half. Year Three is one of those musical experiments that has highs and lows without ever full extricating itself from its limits.

My personal favorite is Working Dog, which picks up some of the flavors of 1970's era New York City jazz. Working on a pizzicato mellotron base, clarinet and trumpet compete for supremacy here. It's not as tuneful as progressive as you might hope for, and again does get a bit bogged down in its own self-contemplation, but you can see Maxwell beginning to unfurl his creative branches a bit here. My Strongbox is a very commercial offering of the sort you might hear as background on movies or TV. Leather may be the most ingenuous tune on Originals II, and shows great hope for Maxwell's composition abilities.

Rating: 3.5 Stars (Out of 5)

You can learn more about Shawn Maxwell at, where you can purchase a copy of Originals II. You can also purchase a CD at A downloadable versions is available through iTunes as well.

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