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  • Jonathan Widran


Had I heard it when it first came out last fall, saxophonist Brian Scanlon’s brilliant, rhythmically varied, continuously compelling debut album Brain Scan would not only have been a shoo-in for my Top 10 of 2019 – it may have made #1.

It’s the kind of fun and fiery creative madness that happens when a versatile musician legendary for his work in TV/film (“La La Land,” “The Simpsons”), session and stage work (Bob Dylan, Tony Bennett) and live ensemble playing (Gordon Goodwin’s Big Phat Band) takes a moment, steps back, gathers his years of under the radar creative output and shares his multitude of passions in a personal way like never before.

Frenetic and funky one minute, sly, sensuous and cooly soulful the next, Scanlon taps the pleasure sensors in our brains with his whirlwind blend of Latin, trad jazz, swing and colorful urban-pop sensibilities. While he’s got established greats like drummer Peter Erskine and pianist Ed Czach on board, the other true revelation here is Scanlon’s son Avery’s trippy electric jazz guitar.

Released just in time for Scanlon’s 60th birthday, Brain Scan is truly a phenomenal collection that all jazz aficionados will hope is not simply a one off – but the start of a grand freewheeling new adventure.

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