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Andrew Renfroe - Run in the Storm (self-released)

31 August 2021

For his first full-length album, up-and-coming young guitarist Andrew Renfroe recruits friends on whose records he’s recorded, including saxophonist Braxton Cook, keyboardist Taber Gable, bassist Rick Rosato and drummer Curtis Nowosad, all part of the new crop of young NYC jazz artists. Nowosad plays a particularly important role here, using a hybrid electronic/acoustic kit and as much influence from hip-hop as swing or hard bop. That doesn’t mean that the songs on Run in the Storm are a hip-hop/jazz blend, mind you, but it does add an airy, flexible feel to the tracks. Renfroe himself walks a delicate line between post-bop and fusion, pulling the Pat Metheny trick of close-mic’ing his ax for a combination natural and amp tone and writing melodies that draw from R&B and rock as much as jazz. If that sounds like fuzak mush, don’t be fooled. Thanks to Renfroe and Cook, the title track adds tension to the harmony lines, while still sticking to its melody. “Gotham” kicks off with a drum fill bordering on free jazz, while guest trumpeter Marquis Hill crawls through the track with otherworldly tones. Busy solo guitar piece “Storm’s Eye” serves as both showcase for Renfroe’s tone, and a lead-in for the dreamy “Alps.” Appearing in two very different versions, “Borrowed Time” stands out as a quintessential take on Renfroe’s approach – tuneful, groovy, but with harmony lines from both Cook and the leader that border on dissonance, keeping the song from sinking into the couch. Renfroe clearly has a ton of potential, as both writer and player, and Run in the Storm may well turn into a disk that will stand as that moment of “You heard it here first.”

 

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