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fOUR - 'X.IT' (Album Review)

Anthony Dean-Harris
Editor-in-Chief
anthony.deanharris@nextbop.com / @i_ADH

It would seem natural that all the work multi-instrumentalist Nate Wood has been doing under his solo project, fOUR, would be leading to an album. Wood has been releasing videos of his one take performances, playing new songs and every instrument, over the last year, blowing minds all the while. Now he's put the songs all together for the album X.IT, out Friday.

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Horne + Holt - 'Wires' (Album Review)

Anthony Dean-Harris
Editor-in-Chief
anthony.deanharris@nextbop.com / @i_ADH

Horne + Holt, the instrumental duo of guitarist Jonathan Horne and cellist Randall Holt, sound simultaneously expansive and stark, at least they do on their latest album, Wires. The pair are masters at soundscapes and weirdness in assorted groupings (they've even graced the pixels of Nextbop together before alongside Thor Harris in the group Knest) and it is through these groupings where they have never strayed from the true oddness of their music. They've never seemed to have been hindered from creating what they want in the moment, so to have just the two of them playing off one another, riding a mood out as simply as possible, has a pure sense of beauty to it worth cherishing.

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Basher - '100% Humidity' (Album Review)

Anthony Dean-Harris
Editor-in-Chief
anthony.deanharris@nextbop.com / @i_ADH

We've remarked on the neat brilliance of saxophonist Byron Asher's music before. The Louisiana artist has been a solid staple in a number of groups who have hit our radar (supporting percussionist Zach Rhea in live settings and in the trio Nutria, for instance). Now, Asher has released his own trio album alongside alto saxophonist Reagan Mitchell and drummer Brad Webb (another Louisiana player whose praises we have sung) called 100% Humidity, out now on Breakfast 4 Dinner Records.

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The Royal Krunk Jazz Orkestra - 'Get It How You Live'

Anthony Dean-Harris
Editor-in-Chief
anthony.deanharris@nextbop.com / @i_ADH

Russell Gunn's Royal Krunk Jazz Orkestra has a lovely familiarity to it. Wes Funderburk & Gunn's arrangements for his large ensemble, headquartered out of Atlanta (and recorded at my own alma mater, Morehouse College), calls up numerous black musical influences, like it's an album that could play solidly through the Tom Joyner Morning Show, only interspersed by the radio soap "It's Your World". It's all laid out in their new album's introductory track, Get It How You Live's thesis-- that an intermingling of genres can find the right audience where fans from different quarters can end their squabbles. It's all in the choices: "Sybil's Blues" (otherwise known as the sample to Digable Planets' "Cool Like That", "If I Ever Fall in Love" by Shai, two DeBarge songs, Gunn's own "Lyne's Joint" (which has always sounded a couple steps away from being Janet Jackson's "I Get So Lonely"). Gunn has not chosen to make an album of jazz standards, but instead R&B encroaching on "old school joints", like the album is asking its listener what it knows about that music, youngblood? Thusly, like most other nostalgia-inducing works, Get It How You Live provides all the good feelings Gunn was going for so directly in these arrangements.

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Javier Santiago - 'Phoenix'

Anthony Dean-Harris
Editor-in-Chief
anthony.deanharris@nextbop.com / @i_ADH

The ease with which one can cling to keyboardist Javier Santiago is very reminiscent, oddly enough, of the better corners of smooth jazz. Santiago as a leader melds the best elements of jazz, R&B, and soul in very contemporary senses while maintaining an accessibility that can please many. This is an album that celebrates nature, so why would a human connection to tones not be apparent? There's something easy about listening to Phoenix out now on Ropeadope, which makes it something easy to listen to over and over again.