Ruslan Khain: Delay
Ruslan Khain (bass)
For Medicinal Purposes Only! (Smalls Records)
Ruslan Khain (bass),
Yoshi Okazaki (trumpet), Chris Byars (tenor sax, flute), Richard Clements (piano), Phil Stewart (drums).
Composed by Ruslan Khain.
Recorded: New York, July 6, 2008
Rating: 83/100 (learn more)
Bassist/composer Ruslan Khain's "Delay" is a medium-up Jazz Messengers-type tune, reminiscent of Wayne Shorter's (or perhaps Bobby Watson's) writing for the Blakey band. The minor-key, stop-time head offers a pleasant slip of a melody, with a string of solos comprising the meat of the performance. Yoshi Okazaki is a skilled hard-bop trumpeter. He's not flashy but swings hard, has a pleasingly burnished tone, and plays nice ideas. Tenor saxophonist Chris Byars is a favorite of label head Luke Kaven, for good reason. An articulate, brainy player whose lovely tone is the aural equivalent of melted caramel, Byars is his typical excellent self. Pianist Richard Clements is a spirited player, if a bit unsure of himself at times. The leader turns in an agile—if murkily recorded—solo. In terms of the composition, Khain's second, contrasting melody leading out of the solos and back to the head is an effective touch.
The performance is fine, although there's a certain tightness to the overall feel. The solo section in particular seems overly scripted. Each player is given a scant 32 bars, which inhibits the performance. It seems as if they're being cut off just as they're getting warmed up. It would be nice if Khain had allotted at least twice that amount, allowing the improvisers to build momentum and express themselves more fully. Other than that, the music is solid, unpretentious and enjoyable.
Reviewer: Chris Kelsey