Denys Baptiste makes thoughtful jazz on “The Late Trane”

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Denys Baptiste’s new album, “The Late Trane,” is an album that surprises listeners with deft shifts in sound and mood. Songs like “Dusk Dawn” and “Ascent” exemplify the album’s commitment to thoughtfully arranged jazz.                                                         

Denys Baptiste and his take on jazz

London-born Baptiste has won awards for his work since his first album was released in 1999. “The Late Trane” is his fifth album. Picking just two songs from this album to write about was difficult. Each song is like a handcrafted masterpiece that shows that the artist knows how jazz works and what he would like to do with it.

The result of Baptiste’s approach to jazz is an album that sets moods, and sparks ideas. It is a soundscape to a set of particular thoughts. The arrangement and production of the album is stellar as well.

“Dusk Dawn”

The song captures listeners’ attention right away with its sweeping rush of saxophone. Audiences can feel the atmosphere that marks the beginning and end of day, and they are created by saxophone, piano and drums. The overall effect is an effortless lightness. The light feeling follows a tinkling piano and tapping drums that commandeer the near-middle of the song. Three minutes in, the saxophone returns. The sound then livens to a hybrid Latin and Caribbean beat. The result of all of this is a laid-back type of cool that should be appreciated by jazz fans everywhere.

“Ascent”

Ironically, the song begins with the lone growling of a surly upright bass. Perhaps those low notes are from where the music will ascend. The saxophone contributes a sultry tattoo and the upright bass parrots it back. Eventually the song develops into a fusion exercise. The saxophone shifts into a psychedelic sound, holding its own against strident increases in organ, electric bass and drums. The sound and feel is experimental and innovative without being messy, weird or off-putting.

Listening to selections on “The Late Trane” it is obvious why Baptiste has amassed awards. The songs are artfully arranged and each instrument is skillfully played. “The Late Trane” is an album that not only deserves more listeners, but more thoughtful listeners in particular.

 

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Dodie Miller-Gould is a native of Fort Wayne, Indiana. She has BA and MA degrees in English from Indiana University-Purdue University, Fort Wayne, and an MFA in Fiction from Minnesota State University, Mankato. Her research interests include popular music and culture, 1920s jazz, and blues, confessional poetry, and the rhetoric of fiction. She has presented at numerous conferences in rhetoric and composition, and creative writing. Her creative works have appeared in Tenth Muse, Apostrophe, The Flying Island, Scavenger's Newsletter and elsewhere. She has won university-based awards for creative work and literary criticism.

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