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A plethora of situations resemble utopia when compared to the pandemic conditions we currently find ourselves in, but TuneTown’s latest release Entering Utopia could bring a listener in that kind of positive direction even under normal circumstances. This is true musically, and makes sense in the greater timeline as well, being recorded at the same session as the trio’s previous release There From Here.
This album is my second review this month to prominently feature saxophonist Kelly Jefferson, and his grounded approach across genres is simultaneously unique and authentic. I know of his comrades Artie Roth on the bass and drummer Ernesto Cervini from their ample work with other projects, but TuneTown gives them unique space and freedom by removing a chordal instrument from the equation. This leaves the rhythm section more room for exposed harmonic and percussive moments, like Roth’s informative double stops on Layla Tov, and Cervini’s intro to Hello, Today, the album’s opener that introduces the band one member at a time.
Performing together for more than a decade and a half has given the group a very cohesive sound, bringing a sense of unity to this album as it traverses originals, free improvisations and even a Charlie Parker blues. Entering Utopia gives listeners an excellent earful of what to expect when we next hear TuneTown in person.