By Kira Grunenberg | Published May 2020
Ken Fowser’s latest album, Morning Light, looks to nature’s transient qualities as a source of inspiration.
Fowser’s tenor saxophone gliding through a short series of notes that fluidly descend and then just as quickly ascend combine with Tadataka Unno’s flurry of chords and trills on piano, and Joe Strasser’s complementary cymbal work, making Morning Light’s opening a signpost for straight-ahead work. When listening with an imaginative mentality to that phrase on “Moving Forward,” it suddenly feels like a swell of warm, springtime air. Then, when Fowser’s saxophone and Josh Bruneau’s trumpet settle into a unison melody that’s pushed ahead by Unno’s offbeat chords, the band truly channels spring’s emergence. But Morning Light’s crisp production is a precarious double-edged sword. While Fowser’s band is stellar, sticking with tradition results in the heavily polished sound weakening the impact of any idiosyncratic surprises. That’s not to say that the album is devoid of abstract character, though: The rotation of featured instruments (and all their distinct attributes) on “Firefly” and the pairing of drums with piercing trumpet on “Vitamin E” conclude Morning Light on a modern-sounding but, more importantly, memorable note.
Morning Light: Moving Forward; Three For Leathers; In The Blue; Seventy Sixers; This That & The Other Thing; Morning Light; That Was Then; The Instigator; Without Saying; Firefly; Vitamin E. (55:03)
Personnel: Ken Fowser, tenor saxophone; Josh Bruneau, trumpet, flugelhorn; Tadataka Unno, piano; Vince Dupont, bass; Joe Strasser, drums.