Brian Landrus’ dedication to musicianship is deep and enduring. As a direct result everything he creates is music in which nothing can be omitted, not a single turn of the melody, not a single modulation. It requires the strictest attention to the finest accents in the music, to every expressive gesture. Intonation is superbly refined, almost as if his playing were well-articulated singing. This superb recording – The Deep Below – music that abounds in refined textures, evocative word-setting and audacious harmonies, lushly sensuous and enigmatic throughout. The music demands an almost chamber-like glamour. With his diamantine tone, dramatic flair and deep-diving bottom notes, Brian Landrus provides it in spades.
The music is lovingly planned. It is a disk full of deep exultation and even in the darkest utterances, it is with a spirit of uplift that I now find myself listening to as performances that are carried forwards on an irresistible tide of youthful exuberance. From song to song, Brian Landrus gives performance after performance of surpassing brilliance and character. However had the slog in the practice room such dazzle and re-creation result from intense discipline and there is a sense of joyful release, of music-making free from all constraint. With an oh-so-subtle not toward tradition Mr. Landrus gives us music that is both timeless and contemporary.
What a spring – even swagger – he finds in Duke Ellington’s “Sophisticated Lady”, what drama and vitality as he launches “Giant Steps”, what unflagging but unforced brio in the remarkable “It Comes Together In The End”. And then you encounter his version of “I’m A Fool To Want You”, where the pace and energy are resolved in a still, grave voice of calm. This is music of wide and relevant leap, music that pays tribute to the elders by reflecting cherished memories. Mr. Landrus keeps everything smartly on the move, spinning vocal lines with rare translucency and with inventive decorations cascading like dense showers of stardust.. There is never a question of attention-seeking, of ‘what can I do with this?’. Such things have no place in the Brian Landrus lexicon and everything is as natural as breathing.
From the depths of his bass and baritone instruments textures too are as light as air, after commanding summons to a cerebral dance, in all of this music is an adult playfulness, a skittish erasing of all possible opacity. Again, detail is as acute as ever, with flashing octaves complemented by a magically sensitive central gravitas suggesting a darkish undertow as if the musical presentations were cannons buried in flowers. And lest this sounds static, we also hear gazelle-like leaps followed by music alive with an already distinctive voice. In the hands of this reeds and woodwinds specialist, everything becomes a most intoxicating creation sending fabulous spangles of sound spinning through the air.
This teasing magic never seems to have a beginning or an end. As always you are left with the conviction that Brian Landrus may well be the most remarkable young baritone saxophonist, bass clarinetist and flutist and now bass saxophonist of our time. And for him, choosing from his already extensive repertoire for future recordings will surely be a labour of love. Michael Borby’s recorded sound is excellent and this is a disc to prompt wonder and delight in equal measure.
Track List: Fly; Sophisticated Lady; Fields of Zava; Giant Steps; Will She Ever Know; It Comes Together in the End; Just a Fading Memory; I’m a Fool To Want You; Orebro Treaty; Ancient; Open Water; The Age; Once Again
Personnel: Brian Landrus: baritone saxophone (1, 2, 5, 7, 9 & 13), bass clarinet (4, 8, 10, 12 & 14), bass flute (6 & 11), bass saxophone (3); Lonnie Plaxico: acoustic bass; Billy Hart: drums
Release date: June 2015
Running time: 52:10
Buy music on: amazon
About Brian Landrus
Brian Landrus is a low woodwind player and composer based in Brooklyn NY. He grew up in Reno NV and was born September 14th, 1978. He began playing saxophone at 12 and was performing professionally by 15. He has become one of the strongest original voices in the music world on baritone saxophone, bass clarinet, bass saxophone, bass flute, and alto flute. He specializes on the low end of the audio spectrum but plays nearly all woodwind instruments. He has been called a “Low Woodwind Expert” by Time Out New York, and a “baritone saxophone and bass clarinet ace”, by JazzTimes. Read more…