BRIAN SCANLON — Brain Scan (review)

BRIAN SCANLON — Brain Scan album cover Album · 2019 · Post Bop Buy this album from MMA partners
3.5/5 ·
js
Brian Scanlon is one of those musicians who you have probably listened to before, but didn’t realize who you were listening to. A long time session saxophonist, Brian has recorded with stars like Bob Dylan and Randy Newman, appeared on TV soundtracks such as The Simpsons and Family Guy, as well as movies like “La La Land” and “Crazy Rich Asians”. After a 32 year career Brian finally decided to record his first album as leader and packed “Brain Scan” with mostly his original tunes. Brian counts Coltrane and Parker as major influences, and you can also hear a good bit of Sonny Rollins and some Eric Dolphy too. Scanlon plays both tenor and alto and is a bopper at heart, always swinging, but he also works in plenty of RnB and soul on his eclectic debut.

The album opens with two modern abstract post bop tracks with Latin and fusion influences. Brian’s son, Avery, turns in a Holdsworth flavored electric guitar solo on the opener. “Re-entry” follows with some funky soul jazz that sounds like an instrumental version of a classic Steely Dan track, particularly in the guitar scratching of Andrew Synowiec. After a well written melodic ballad the band goes full tilt bebop on “I Hear Something” and a major overhaul of “Harlem Nocturne”. Scanlon turns down the heat for the closing numbers, with “My Right Foot” providing some bluesy grooves.

I’m not sure why Brian waited so long to step out as a leader, this should have happened long ago. He is an excellent writer and his constant melodic invention recalls his favorite sax mentors, but Scanlon also provides his own very smooth delivery and relaxed sound that is unique to him.
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