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Wednesday, October 12, 2011
RAHSAAN BARBER – EVERYDAY MAGIC
The dynamic saxophonist and flutist Rahsaan Barber has emerged as a musical force in his hometown of Nashville, and now he’s reaching for a wider audience with his terrific new CD, Everyday Magic. The CD, which Barber produced, and for which he wrote and arranged the repertoire—debuts his powerhouse band, also called Everyday Magic. Besides Barber on tenor, alto, and soprano saxophones and flute, the ensemble is comprised of four top Nashville musicians: guitarist Adam Agati, pianist Jody Nardone, bassist Jerry Navarro, and drummer Nioshi Jackson. Trombonist Roland Barber, Rahsaan’s twin brother, is a guest on two tracks, as is percussionist Giovanni Rodriguez (co-leader, with Rahsaan, of the Latin-jazz septet El Movimiento). “When I tell my New York friends there are all these fantastic jazz musicians in Nashville, they say, come on, really?” says the 31-year-old saxophonist, active in the Music City’s scene as a performer, studio musician, and educator. “I’m really hoping to help bring more attention to them.” In fact, Barber has formed a new label, Jazz Music City Records, with that goal in mind. Everyday Magic is the enterprise’s first release, with future projects planned for El Movimiento, pianist Bruce Dudley, vocalist Stephanie Adlington, and a hip-hop brass band called the Megaphones.
Everyday Magic is a formidable outing for the versatile artist and his ambitious label. Barber reveals his substantial tenor saxophone chops on the uptempo groover, “Jubilee”; the sweet, gospel-tinged love song, “Manhattan Grace,” displays yet another aspect of the leader’s expansive compositional bent, and spotlights his warm alto saxophone style. “Adagio” is a showcase for Barber’s flute sensibilities, and “Innocence,” a deftly constructed, appealing waltz, allows his soprano saxophone to shine. Rahsaan Barber and his brother Roland—named after famed jazz reed artist and composer Rahsaan Roland Kirk—were born in Nashville on April 2, 1980 into a musical family that includes another brother, saxophonist Robert; their mother, a singer; and their grandmother, a pianist. As a youth Rahsaan heard a variety of music from gospel and country to blues and jazz, and his exposure greatly expanded when he went to Indiana University to study music under the esteemed educator David Baker. “His model of work ethic, passion for music, detailed and patient educational offerings and soulfulness have continued to show their influence in my own approach to music,” says Barber. The Barber Brothers debuted on record with Twinnovation, in 2001, and Rahsaan’s first album under his own name was 2005’s TrioSoul, featuring B-3 organist Moe Denham and drummer Robert Bond. Last year came "The Movement" by El Movimiento, which Rahsaan co-leads with percussionist Giovanni Rodriguez and trumpeter Imer Santiago. The saxophonist, who has taught at Nashville’s Belmont University, is among the many distinguished artists who have played with the Nashville Jazz Orchestra; he’s also performed at the community-based Nashville Jazz Workshop. “There are so many different strands of music here in Nashville,” said Barber. “There’s a unique opportunity here to build a sound.”