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Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Brian Questa - Jazz Booty (self released, 2013) ****

By Paul Acquaro

Bassist Brian Questa's album Jazz Booty is not a loud album, but I think it's best listened to that way. How else can you ensure that you are hearing all of guitarist Mary Halvorson's  slinky spiky runs, saxophonist Tony Malaby's emotional melodies and Questa's adventurous playing?

Take track 4, 'Fast Booty (with)', for example. It's a quick number that begins with some wonderfully tortured sax from Malaby, eventually smoothing out somewhat, under which Questa provides a pulsating bass line. Halvorson dances gingerly around this fitful duo, adding bits and pieces until the trio achieves a delicate equilibrium.  Track 3, 'The Kansas City Stomp' is probably not a homage to any particular Kansas City jazz legends, nor is it much of a stomp, but it does begin with an upbeat theme, played in unison, that reappears between 'duo' sections - where Halvorson and Questa improvise together, then Halvorson and Malaby mix it up.
One of the stand out tracks is 'The Ballad', which starts with a forlorn melody from the sax. As Halvorson's uniquely voiced chords begin fleshing out the background, the connection with Questa's upright bass is quiet and supportive. The tune grows both wider and deeper, leading to an emotive group improvisation. There is plenty of fun too - 'The Blues' begins jauntily, setting the stage for some musical mayhem to follow.

Questa is a New York based composer and bassist with a ear for experimental and avant-garde music, and with Jazz Booty he has created a really engaging album. Give this one a try, see where the improvised music will take you, and don't be shy about turning up the volume.

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