Josh Bennier astutely builds improvising into the structures of his compositions, rather than just decorating song-forms with solos, so each player is given a context in which to carry the work forward on its multifaceted journey. The exceptional young trombonist bristles with so many ideas that he happily squeezes a swag of them into a single work, where many composers would have fashioned each thought into its own piece. From the listener’s point of view this is heaven, because the music keeps turning unexpected corners and revealing new vistas, whether of rhythm (often Latin-tinged), texture, harmony, density, velocity or simply exquisite melodies.
To give the music the breadth he desires, Bennier has assembled a septet, but with only one other horn (alto saxophonist Zac O’Connell), otherwise opting for instruments to maximise the orchestral heft: piano (Stuart McGowan), guitar (Theo Carbo), bass (Patrick Fitzgerald), drums (Luke Andresen) and percussion (Cristian Saavedra). All are sophisticated improvisers who amply repay the trust of being able to determine much of the colouring of Bennier’s imaginative templates.