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Behn Gillece – Parallel Universe – Posi-Tone Records PR8190, 53:39 ****1/2:

Vibraphonist/composer shines on his fourth Posi-Tone release.

(Behn Gillece – vibraphone; Stacy Dillard – tenor saxophone; Bruce Harris – trumpet; Art Hirahara – piano, Rhodes; David Wong – bass; Rudy Royston – drums)

Vibraphonist Behn Gillece has released a highly crafted album of original compositions, Parallel Universe. Fronting an impressive sextet (Stacy Dillard /tenor saxophone; Bruce Harris/ trumpet; Art Hirahara/piano, Rhodes; David Wong/bass; Rudy Royston/drums), Gillecce offers insights into the musical contexts and the anecdotal personal stories that define his music. The opening track, “Break The Ice” is self-explanatory as vibraphone, piano, bass and drum execute an up tempo vamp that is joined adroitly by the saxophone and trumpet on lead. At 1:01, Gillece unleashes his first solo and it percolates with crisp runs. Next up to solo is Stacy Dillard on tenor saxophone who provides a muscular take before turning it over to Art Hirahara and his articulate style. Switching to Brazilian inspiration, the band carefully delves into this classic genre on “Bossa For R.M”. Dedicated to Roberto Menescal, there is a stellar unison lead, nimble vibraphone and saucy tenor. The title track explores duality in a polyrhythmic terms. This arrangement has a feel of traditional bop grit and swing. Rudy Royston’s prominent drumming propels this jam, and Bruce Harris soars on trumpet. Gillece’s vibraphone is passionate with whirlwind technique. Hirahara matches the intensity on piano.

“Ready For Tomorrow” is described by its composer as a song about optimism. It has a relaxed buoyancy with blended instrumental flair. Subtle touches like Gillece’s glowing counter to Dillard’s solo, the Hirahara/Wong/Royston “pocket” cohesion and trumpet/saxophone follow is compelling. “Smoke Screen” has an early 70’s hook-driven vibe with Gillece and Hirahara (Fender Rhodes) trading off silky resonance with echo. Royston’s drumming is emphatic. Reverting to hard-driving bop, “Eviscerate” is complicated with a boisterous saxophone run followed by a fleet vibraphone and brief drum solo. On “Downpour” the instrumentation is scaled back to a quartet format with the spotlight on Gellice and Hirahara. The rhythm duo of Wong and Royston is dazzling. There are some punctuated stops that enhance the precise inflection. Dillard and Harris return to expand the sound. They cut loose on their solos and set up another dynamic Gillece run. The three exchange freely at the end.

In a change of pace, “Evening Glow” is slowed down 3/4 time. Gillece’s vibraphone radiates warmth and atmosphere, and Wong gets an unexpected solo. Hirahara’s ethereal skipping piano lines embrace the feel of this song. The tonality of the vibraphone and piano are delivered with modern aesthetics. In a wild jam, “Alice’s Journey” is straight ahead, intense jazz. Dillard and Hirahara are frenetic in their soloing and Royston heart-stopping drum solo is ferocious. The finale, “Candle In The Dark” offers a different take. It is “airy” and is framed by the wistful combination of vibraphone and Fender Rhodes. There is a ruminative, harmonic spirit to the performance.

Behn Gillece – Parallel Universe is compelling jazz! 

TrackList:
Break The Ice
Bossa for R.M
Parallel Universe
Ready For Tomorrow
Smoke Screen
Eviscerate
Downpour
Shadow Of The Flame
Evening Glow
Alice’s Journey
Candle In The Dark

—Robbie Gerson

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