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  • Jonathan Widran

JASON KUSH, Finally Friday

With a fascinating (conservatively estimated!) thousand-mile-long resume ranging from large ensembles (Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra, Russian National Orchestra, Woody Herman Orchestra, South Florida Jazz Orchestra) to work with Andrea Bocelli, Barry Manilow, Arturo Sandoval, Patti Lupone and Common, it’s clear that tenor saxophonist Jason Kush has spent years looking forward to chilling out or playing his own gigs once the workweek is through.

His explosive, euphoric TGIF solo moment arrives at last with the lively, colorful, hard jamming yet often relaxed and cooly soulful Finally Friday – a concept all hard-working folks can immediately connect with whether they dig burning quartet jazz or not. Jason and his wildly adventurous, high-energy crew (pianist Alton Merrell, bassist Jeff Grubbs, drummer David Glover) get busy and bustling, sharing the joys of the freewheeling Saturday and Sunday to come on the constantly in motion opener “Hasty J” (featuring a hypnotic improvisational solo romp by Merrell) and keeping the freewheeling momentum going on the ultra-melodic, hard swinging title track and the punchy, percussive funk edges of “Slipping Through the Cracks.”

Kush finally allows himself, the group and us listeners to catch our collective breaths on the gently reflective “With Thoughts of Agnes,” a tender yet passionate deeply exploratory and improvisational) ballad that harkens back to some degree to the vibe of Intersecting Lines, the saxophonist’s 2014 dual album with Billy Test.

The quartet fills the rest of the weekend with moments of easy swinging, cheerful but laid-back relaxation (“Asked and Answered,” “Easy Going”) before getting a bit exotic, artsy and impressionistic (like an unexpected Sunday jaunt to anywhere that strikes our fancy) before full circling back to the fiery fun at the emotional core of the collection with the hard swinging, festive hustle and bustle of “Razor Burn.” Thematically and musically, Finally Friday is the perfect soundtrack for an inspiring weekend – whether you’re in the mood for hard jazzy partying, kicking back in the recliner or heading somewhere unexpected.


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