WALKING DISTANCE

Avant-Garde Jazz / 21st Century Modern • United States
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Exploration and improvisation are the eternal hallmarks of jazz, with each new performer adding his individual stamp to the library of the genre. Bring four fiercely individual players together, and a shared musical vocabulary emerges. This is exactly the dynamic of Walking Distance, the New York collective of Caleb Curtis (alto saxophone), Kenny Pexton (tenor saxophone), Adam Coté (double bass) and Shawn Baltazor (drums).

Neighborhood is the band’s debut release; a visceral and sincere celebration of finding home and a sense of belonging wherever you are. Two saxophonists intertwine in sound and concept, often blending seamlessly and engaging in a spirited interplay with the drums and bass. The band revels in a wide range of possibilities; from melodic swing and grooving rock, to free bop and soulful ballads, with a dash of terror-inducing chaos. The album features entirely original compositions with the exception of one American Songbook standard – a radically
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Freebird Feat. Jason MoranFreebird Feat. Jason Moran
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WALKING DISTANCE Discography

WALKING DISTANCE albums / top albums

WALKING DISTANCE Neighborhood album cover 4.50 | 2 ratings
Neighborhood
Avant-Garde Jazz 2015
WALKING DISTANCE Freebird Feat. Jason Moran album cover 0.00 | 0 ratings
Freebird Feat. Jason Moran
21st Century Modern 2018

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WALKING DISTANCE Reviews

WALKING DISTANCE Neighborhood

Album · 2015 · Avant-Garde Jazz
Cover art Buy this album from MMA partners
js
Walking Distance’s “Neighborhood” was released back in January and seemed to slip under the radar as it has not received near the attention it deserves. In this era of cool and somber reserved jazz, its nice to hear something this ‘hot’, and “Neighborhood” is one of the hottest jazz albums to come out in a while. Walking Distance is an acoustic four piece that consists of two saxophones, bass and drums. The lack of a rhythm section gives them a distinctly open sound in which you can hear every note. Although the horn section consists of two saxes, their unison lines and interactions often recall classic trumpet-sax pairings such as Diz and Bird, Ornette and Don Cherry, and Dolphy and Booker Little. Although Walking Distance can evoke classic past artists like the aforementioned, this is not a even close to a retro act, instead, Distance has that modern nervous ‘punky’ energy and quick-change sensibility that informs much of today’s downtown NY scene. Still, if you appreciate the manic energy of early be-bop, Walking Distance is one of the few modern bands I’ve heard that can play with that kind of emotional dedication and fire.

Although Walking Distance’s music is definitely on the avant-garde side of the jazz world, there is not much on here in the way of old school free jazz, instead, many of Distance’s tunes seem to work with vague harmonic structures that give soloists some sort of framework to deal with, but nothing is laid out in a too obvious fashion. Walking Distance also gives us some interesting variety, with “Cartoon Element” and “Neighborhood” providing high speed frenetic energy, while “April 10th” and “Singing in Circles” are abstract and more relaxed. There is a lot of free wheeling humor to this band, and that comes out on album closer “Willoughby Greene”, on which the band builds into one of those repeating “Hey Jude” style chord sequences to close the album in a manner which mocks a classic 70s art rock album.

“Neighborhood” is walking Distance’s first album, and at this point it seems like the future potential for this band is very high. It will be interesting to see what this band’s next album will be like, as there is a restless creativity to this group that will probably avoid anything too predictable.

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