by Eric Snider
Album review: Jonathan Powell & Nu Sangha, Beacons of Light
The St. Pete native trumpeter — whose group includes sax playing bro Jeremy — presents a brand new post-bop outing.
All jazz musicians think about it, many talk about it, some even plan it — but very few actually leave the nest and head to New York to make their bones.
Trumpeter Jonathan and saxophonist Jeremy Powell — brothers who grew up in St. Petersburg — are among those who did. And stayed. They return for a gig at the Palladium Theater, a homecoming CD release party for Jonathan’s newest album with his group nu Sangha, Beacons of Light, which was recorded at The Bunker studio in Brooklyn, where the brothers currently reside.
While the Powells have found the most opportunity on NYC’s Latin jazz and salsa scene, Beacons falls decidedly into the straight-ahead post-bop mode. And it’s not just a pile-into-the-studio-and-blow affair. Jonathan’s compositions are intricately wrought and copiously arranged, using guest artists to sometimes evoke a large-ensemble effect.
Jonathan’s trumpet mastery is on display throughout as he effortlessly shifts from lyrical introspection (occasionally on flugelhorn) to scintillating bop lines, his tone ranging from mellifluous to piercing.
Jeremy is similarly prodigious. Versatile too — he plays tenor, alto and soprano on this recording. (You wonder if Mom and Dad ever had to plug their ears while the brothers practiced.)
If Beacons of Light ultimately comes off as overly mannered — too much a product of The Academy — so be it. That’s why there are live gigs to loosen the music up. (Critics’ Rating: 3 out of 5 Stars)