Vinson Valega Group - Biophilia

Album review. Drummer Vinson Valega's fourth release as leader; challenging yet accessible jazz played by a fine sextet


Recorded: 28th and 29th June 2009 at Bennett Studios, Englewood, NJ.

Release date: December 1st 2009

Availability: CD, MP3 Download

Vinson Valega: Biophilia cover

'Biophilia' is drummer Vinson Valega's fourth release as leader. It offers challenging yet accessible jazz played by a fine sextet that comprises: Anton Denner (alto sax & flute), Chris Bacas (tenor & soprano saxophones), Mark Miller (trombone), Matthew Fries (piano), Gary Wang (bass), Vinson Valega (drums).

Among the standout tracks is 'Let', which opens as an almost classical sounding piece built around unusual and beautiful flute, trombone and bowed bass harmonisation, before drums and piano cut in to tilt the mood firmly towards jazz. Deep and contemplative.

Vinson Valega: photo
Vinson Valega

Another standout is the opener 'I Knew You'd Say That', a swinging mainstream post bop piece with appealing horn harmonization riding on an uptempo beat with cool rhythm changes. 'Talk Time', another outright success, is based around a similar approach.

'Moment of Silence' opens with free jazz allusions before settling into a neat swing based groove with room for fine soloing.

'I Just Wanted To See What You Look Like' is a tender jazz trio piece, a vehicle for some fine, restrained playing.

Of the non-original tracks, Thelonious Monk's 'Think Of One' is the most successful, emerging as an upbeat, swinging, off-kilter blues with inventive solos from tenor and alto saxes, piano, bass and drums.

Overall, an album that it is easy to highly recommend.

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