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Jazz supergroups are often projects, put together by pals getting together for a laugh, or a record company looking to increase profits. But there are always those few, those precious few, who come together because its principals recognize a congruence of talent, or a similarity of vision. From the sound of In Real Time, the second album by Artemis, this is a band that came together under the latter circumstances. For this record, pianist Renee Rosnes, drummer Allison Miller, bassist Noriko Ueda, and trumpeter Ingrid Jensen welcome saxophonists Nicole Glover and Alexa Tarantino to the fold, though they’re so well integrated it feels like they’ve been there the whole time. Miller and Ueda set up flexible rhythmic backdrops for the melodist to play off; the horns lay down the main riffs and solos, while Rosnes fills in the blanks with lush comping and sharp countermelodies. Most of these tracks are shaken down until they swing – check out Ueda’s hard bopping “Lights Away From Home,” Rosnes’ anthemic “Empress Afternoon,” or Miller’s rollicking “Bow and Arrow” to get toes tapping and hips moving. But the group also knows when to slow it down and luxuriate in melody, as on Rosnes’ beautiful ballad “Balance of Time,” or the opening cover of the late Lyle Mays’ lush “Slink.” The apex tune, though, may well be Jensen’s “Timber,” a magnificent slice of post bop that shows off the players’ chemistry more than their chops. In Real Time isn’t the sound of great musicians having a lark – it’s the sound of a great band reaching its true distinction.
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