By Ayana Contreras | Published July 2021
Recorded amid the pandemic, Mosaic somehow manages to capture the vibe of the proverbial smoke-filled, wood-paneled jazz club of yore: offering an expansive collection of vintage-flavored straightahead jazz (all original Barber compositions) that could stand up alongside evergreen albums such as John Wright’s 1960 Prestige debut South Side Soul.
“The Pink Piranha” is a classically styled slow-walk number that dazzles; it’s chock full of glittering hi-hat. Rahsaan’s playing here gives off flavors of Gene Ammons LPs, with bluebird-worthy trills reminiscent of Willis Jackson deep cuts. In response, Rahsaan’s twin brother, Roland, lays down a mean, trill-laden trombone solo of his own.
Everyone in the core unit — Nathan Warner on trumpet, pianist Matt Endahl, bassist Jack Aylor and drummer Derrek Phillips — deliver tight, polished performances, augmented by memorable guest turns from Roland Barber (on trombone, primarily) and Nathan Warner (on trumpet).
“Just Jack” presents a welcome respite, even more intimate than the tight combo on most other tracks here. Aylor’s moody, expressive solo excursion leads into “Koala,” a luscious, light-dappled tune.
And for all the throwback vibes Mosaic has to offer, it also offers timely statements, such as the melancholy lament of “Breonna Taylor (How Many More?).” Phillips offers a crashing, rolling cinematic drum treatment that indelibly underlines the imminence of the track’s sentiment.
Mosaic: Quarantine Queens; Catch As Ketch Can; The Pink Piranha; Down In My Soul; Home Cookin’; Just Jack; Koala; Jambo Rafiki; Swang That Thang; The Mountains And The Clouds; Panic Point; #NewDayRocks; Sunrise Service; Nadje And The Snow; La Mordida; Breonna Taylor (How Many More?). (96:04)
Personnel: Rahsaan Barber, alto, baritone and tenor saxophones; Matt Endahl, piano; Jack Aylor, bass; Derrek Phillips, drums; Roland Barber, trombone (3, 4, 9, 10, 13), conch shell (8); Nathan Warner; trumpet (1, 2, 5, 7, 11, 14).
Ordering Info: jazzmusiccity.myshopify.com