Ken Fowser & Behn Gillece – Little Echo – Posi-Tone PR8068, 51:45 *****:
(Ken Fowser, tenor saxophone; Behn Gillece, vibraphone; Rick Germanson, piano; Ugonna Okegwo, bass; Quincy Davis, drums)
Ken Fowser and Behn Gillece, two very promising young artists on the Posi-tone label, have added another feather to their cap with Little Echo, their first album made up entirely of new compositions. Fowser on tenor sax and Gillece on vibraphone lead the band, backed by Rick Germanson on piano, Quincy Davis on drums, and Ugonna Okegwo on bass. The rhythm section is tight but subtle, letting the lively and bright melodies take the focus. Throughout much of the album, Germanson on piano forms the backbone of the melody while Fowser and Gillece elaborate. Fowser is excellent, but Gillece especially is a player to remember, with a strong succinct touch and a way of lodging melodies firmly in your head.
The two young players also have an excellent team behind the boards in producer Marc Free and engineer Nick O’Toole. The piano and vibraphone are beautifully captured in the recording, with a shimmering sound that is often lost in digital recording. The quality of the recording also lends the album a nostalgic cast, with the tracks sounding more like 1950s recordings than anything else.
The first two tracks are something of a piece, with melodic themes that complement each other. Resolutions and Ninety Five both feature busy but sunny themes that Fowser and Gillece take in different directions. Fowser deepens the sound and grooves, while Gillece keeps things quick and flowing, with an infectious sound that makes the listener want to throw a party.
Sap and Vigilance have slightly more complex structures and a little more rhythmic meat on their bones, and the band adapts easily. Vigilance is a particularly great composition, and if any filmmakers are listening they should keep these two on a short list for soundtrack work based on this number.
Another View closes out the album. Germanson has a fantastic solo early in the song, but its Gillece’s solo around the two and a half minute mark that steals the show.
Buy Little Echo, play it for company, and spread the word about these exciting young jazz artists.
TrackList: Resolutions, Ninety Five, Sap, The Dog Days, Vigilance, Little Echo, One Step At A Time, You, Another View
– Ethan Krow