If Brian Landrus hadn’t already proven himself to be one of jazz’s preeminent low reed players, he has now with his trio’s The Deep Below. While the more inspired-by than referential cover of “Giant Steps” is a frantic take on the Coltrane classic, the rest of the album reveals Landrus as a patient and melodic artist. Splitting time between Baritone and bass sax, bass clarinet, and bass flute, Landrus takes a confident path through 11 original compositions and three covers, matching instrument to mood. And while his partners keep up (bassist Lonnie Plaxico in particular has some nice moments), it’s a Landrus album. Even so, Landrus’s playing reveals less flash and more focus on tone and structure. The album’s sequencing shows the same attentiveness, with Landrus switching between lead instruments in a way that makes for a sensible progress from start to finish, from the classy opening bari on “Fly” to the deep melancholy of closing clarinet number “Once Again”. Landrus can certainly play, but it’s his full sensibilities that merit attention on The Deep Below.
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