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  • Jonathan Widran

PAUL SHAW QUINTET, Moment of Clarity

Veteran drummer Paul Shaw brings a fascinating history to his debut as a leader, which, considering its expansive array of moods and melodic, harmonic and rhythmic scope, should rightfully been titled, “Moments of Clarity,” plural.

After years of playing with jazz orchestras in the Marines and Air Force, he built a resume keeping time and groove behind everyone from Nnenna Freelon and Lizz Wright to Steve Nelson, Johnny O’Neal and Bill Watrous. He also co-leads Inside Out and has worked with The Swing Association, voted Best Jazz Group in Atlanta.

He brings all of that experience and rhythmic diversity to the forefront on the current seven-track showcase of compositional and performance diversity. The mark of a great leader is always getting the best performances out of his ensemble.

While keeping all sorts of hipster-cool time (from the buoyant strut of “Showdown” to the subtle hypnotic locomotive thrust behind the seductive, soul searching ballad “Song For Everyone”), he proves himself to be a master of unselfishness, hanging back while his vibrant cohorts (trumpeter Alex Sipiagin, guitarist Brad Shepik, pianist Gary Versace and acoustic bassist Drew Gress) can go to town carrying Shaw’s infectious yet often impressionistic melodic through lines and soloing both boisterously and sensitively, depending on what the mood of the tune and arrangement calls for.

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