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Friday, 09 December 2011 09:59

Charting the music: Greg Ward, 'Phonic Juggernaut'

Charting the music: Greg Ward, 'Phonic Juggernaut' gregward.org / Don Getsug
Written by Laurel Morris

Greg Ward draws on various musical styles with his individual approach to the saxophone, offering an innovative take on modern jazz with "Phonic Juggernaut."

At age 29, Ward demonstrates a wide-ranging knowledge of music in his playing, incorporating elements of funk, Latin jazz and classical styles. He attributes his love of music to his first encounter with the songs of Charlie Parker, which inspired him to learn to play jazz. While his appreciation of more traditional jazz musicians like Parker is apparent in his skilled playing, Ward arrives at his own, individual sound on "Phonic Juggernaut."

Backed by bassist Joe Sanders and drummer Damion Reid, Greg Ward breaks with traditional form and style on this album with spontaneous changes of speed and rhythm in his engaging improvisations. He manages to make incredibly complex melodies seem effortless, achieving an overall air of cool on the title track.

While Sanders's bass lines work off of repeated motifs in Ward's playing and are at times barely audible under the frantic, unpredictable saxophone, Reid's drums add incredible depth. Reid plays with a relentless aggressiveness that places the drums at the forefront of the songs. With his fusion of polyrhythms, which drive the album forward, and a style of drumming more akin to the loud, assertive sound of rock rhythms, Reid gives the pieces a more modern edge.

On the KDHX Charts: #3 on Jazz for November 29, 2011.

This album can be heard on: In the Middle of the Night and All Soul No Borders.

Greg Ward's Phonic Juggernaut by Thirsty Ear Recordings

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