Nicholas Brust: a fine debut album

Nicholas Brust is an alto saxophonist who, until recently, I was completely unaware of. This is not really that surprising given that his debut album, Frozen in Time, has only just been released on the Fresh Sound New Talent label.

The album is comprised of nine tracks, all of which have been composed by Brust, with a brief description in the liner notes as to what influenced the writing of them. The nine tracks are:

01. Work Ahead 7:53
02. Hearts and Spades 7:36
03. Brooklyn Folk Song 6:48
04. Frozen in Time 6:09
05. Hymnal for Those in Need 4:01
06. Adversity 6:14
07. Something Like a Storm 3:46
08. Soliloquy in F Minor 7:31
09. A Shifting State 3:47

This is a particularly good debut album and

Nick Brust’s playing and writing is evidence that the future of the alto saxophone is in good hands. Rarely do you find a young player who combines exquisite, head-spinningly dextrous playing with such thoughtful ideas and compositions. Check him out!

Will Vinson (producer)

Will Vinson’s sentiments are corroborated by Work Ahead, which is a terrific album opener that highlights what a controlled player Brust is – the track also gives room for guitarist Ben Eunson and pianist Tuomo Uustalo to show that they are an equal match to the playing of the bandleader.

There are no weak tracks on this album, and I can imagine highlight tunes will alter according to my mood when listening. Having said that, I particularly enjoyed Soliliquy in F Minor and the bass playing of Josh Allen – the drumming of Jay Sawyer should also be commended, not just on this track but throughout the album. I must also touch on the final track, A Shifting State, the goal of which “was to write a singable, catchy melody that floated over the top of a constantly shifting rhythmic framework”. The goal was reached, and the tune is a fine, contrasting “tail” to “the top” that is Work Ahead.

I like the way this album has been put together, the ebb and flow of it, the variations in tone and tempo, and the production values. This is an album of strong, clean playing throughout: there is no feeling of technique over substance. If I were to produce an end of year top ten list of new album releases, I would be most surprised if this album did not feature somewhere on that list.

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