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Named in tribute to late trumpeter Kenny Wheeler (after a Wheeler tune from the album Angel Song), Kind Folk has grown into a formidable force. Trumpeter/flugelhornist John Raymond, alto saxist Alex LoRe, bassist Noam Wiesenberg and drummer Colin Stranahan have diverse credits as leaders, sidepeople, arrangers and teachers, and though scattered around the country, were able to come together in Brooklyn and cut second album Head Towards the Center in a single day. Unsurprisingly, given the level of talent and experience involved, nothing here sounds rushed despite the tight turnaround. Original tunes like LoRe’s “Around, Forever” and Raymond’s “Power Fall” and “Sweet Spot,” plus covers of Elliott Smith’s “Between the Bars” and Kurt Rosenwinkel’s “Mr. Hope,” provide sturdy melodies and loose structures for the musicians to use as jumping off points for spontaneity, while free improvisations “Distant Signal” and “Where Am I?” display a level of unspoken communication governments and corporations should envy. With what’s evidently a telepathic method of interchange and a shared musical vision, Head Towards the Center sounds like an exceptional record conceived and executed in the time it takes to read about and listen to it.
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