By Michael Jackson | Published January 2018
Los Angeles-based saxophone/flute hotshot Danny Janklow studied with Dick Oatts at Temple University’s Boyer College and shares Oatts’ unpretentious, beautifully articulated, lyrical sensibility on the alto. “Philafornia”—a portmanteau of Janklow’s formative locales of residence—opens with a lovely lilt thanks to drummer Jonathan Pinson and bassist Benjamin Shepherd’s adaptation of Vernell Fournier’s bouncing beat from Ahmad Jamal’s “Poinciana.” It’s a pretty, hip theme, shaded in tasteful pastel by pianist Eric Reed, mallets and alto dancing with the catchy melody, the leader’s nimble trade-offs with vibraphonist Nick Mancini a delight.
“Bad Reception” is a doozy, Shepherd charging on bass after the release and Janklow gear-shifting like a champ. Mancini’s solo is luminous, then another tempo twist offers swing-swagger space for Reed. Like Oatts, Janklow has ballad chops as well as burning skills, but I’m not sure about his lyrics, if those to “Hidden Treasure” and “Serene State Of Love” are indeed self-penned. Jesse Palter’s voice classes up the former but the words tip to the trite, confirmed by the latter, which, despite vocalist Michael Mayo’s best efforts, would induce scribes at Hallmark to gag.
With a cover of Radiohead’s “Creep” and succinct structure from Reed, more vibes from Mancini and extra flute on “Calor del Momento,” there’s plenty to savor, however, on this tight, listenable, promising debut.
Elevation: Philarfornia; Bad Reception; Hidden Treasure; Creep; Toastmaster; Gemini Vibe; Lolobai; Calor Del Momento; All In The Name Of You; Serene State Of Love. (48:12)
Personnel: Danny Jamklow, alto saxophone, alto flute; Jesse Palter, vocals (3, 7); Sam Barsh, keyboards (4, 5, 6); Michael Mayo, voice (10); Eric Reed (1, 2, 8, 10), John Beasley (3, 4, 7, 9), piano; Benjamin Shepherd (1, 2, 4, 6, 7, 8), Ben Williams (3,4,5,9,10), bass; Nick Mancini, vibes (1, 2, 5, 6, 8, 9); Jonathan Pinson, drums.