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Into the Light by Aaron Irwin Group

What is great about this new CD is the interplay between the two saxophonists -- leader Aaron Irwin on alto and Rich Perry on tenor. Guitarist Ryan Scott, bassist Matt Clohesy and drummer Greg Ritchie also add much to the group’s cohesive texture. These guys have been playing together awhile, and this album shows it.

In this recording, Irwin eschews the common small band format of harmonizing on the melody in the beginning of a number, followed by individual solos. Here, most numbers begin with the horns interweaving lines, responding back and forth, playing off each other.

This empathy is especially noticeable in the first track, Jerome Kern’s "All the Things You Are." Irwin begins the melody, then Perry comes in complementing him before taking a solo. This leads to Scott’s haunting guitar turn. Irwin, himself, winds things up with his first-rate improvisation. Beautiful!

In this CD, five of the eight tunes are original compositions from Irwin. The 27-year-old New Yorker gets a chance to display his versatility.

In "Fumes," after the tenors introduce the theme, tenor man, Perry, closes, showing off the clarity of his style in a straight ahead no-nonsense solo, hinting at influences from Getz to Coltrane.

In "Into the Light" the quintet comes on strong in the boppish up-tempo arrangement, featuring forceful harmony from the saxes. In the stirring "The Point," the horns start out trading mellow runs, punctuated by Scott’s guitar. This is followed by a strong dissonant climax with Irwin and Perry both wailing. Again the tune indicates Irwin’s range.

The best, though, is the leader’s low-keyed fantasia on "So in Love." In the Cole Porter classic, the saxes trade lovely phrases in chamber group fashion. Scott’s guitar accents in the background and Ritchie’s cymbal work contribute much to the transcendent beauty of the piece.

This CD should indeed put Irwin and his group into the light.

Additional Info

  • Artist / Group Name: Aaron Irwin Group
  • CD Title: Into the Light
  • Genre: Straight-Ahead / Classic
  • Year Released: 2005
  • Record Label: Fresh Sound Records
  • Rating: Four Stars
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