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Keeping his upward swing going, bassist/composer Billy Mohler returns with his quartet for his third album Ultraviolet. Once again working with trumpeter Shane Endsley, saxophonist Chris Speed and drummer Nate Wood, Mohler finds that special sweet spot between strong melodies and unfettered improvisation. Check out “The Wait,” on which Mohler provides both groove and main melody, letting Endsley and Speed lock, um, horns in a thrilling display of cross currents. Or “Aberdeen,” a lushly executed ballad that trades in dark colors and atmosphere for some seriously brooding contemplation. Or “Reconstruction,” a relatively epic jaunt across postbop melody, unison horn lines, and unrepentant groove. Or the title track, on which Mohler bends all of these players – each a leader in his own right – to serve the needs of his majestic tune for a marvelous display of collective performance. Backed by guys he’s worked with long enough to form a telepathic bond, Mohler hits every mark here: as ear-catching player, as thoughtful but earthy writer, and especially as savvy, soulful bandleader.
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