Saxophonist Kyle Nasser recently released a more than serviceable album alongside Jeff Miles on guitar, Dov Manski on piano, Chris Van Voorst on bass, and Devin Drobka on drums that seems to inhabit a darker shade of the pocket. These songs don’t languish on the vine, and they aren’t exactly sulk-fests. Instead, this album makes unromantic ballads and difficult grooves, as though a synesthetic would feel some dark green aura through its runtime.
It’s an album where Nasser is in front, not in an ostentatious sense, but in a way in which his saxophone compliments Miles’ guitar well for the sake of these songs. If this is the tone this album is going to take, it’s Nasser’s responsibility to take it there. This group however, lays the road for its darker destination quite well. Dov Manski’s comping is nead. Drobka’s drums have a steady rock tremor with good variety without excessive bombast. Van Voorst rounds out the rhythm section quite ably.
Even when it picks up, there’s a groove-based disjointedness that works in these songs, even as it shifts like an old truck with a faulty clutch one’s gotten used to driving. Its swinging tunes maintain some minor vibe to them. It’s uplifiting ones, too. There’s just a total “this will work on a rainy day vibe” going here that could be pretty interesting to pick up.
Nextbop Editor-in-Chief Anthony Dean-Harris hosts the modern jazz radio show, The Line-Up, Fridays at 9pm CST on 91.7 FM KRTU San Antonio and is also a contributing writer to DownBeat Magazine and the San Antonio Current.