Half Notes: Alex Lopez – We Can Take This Boat (2011)

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The sweeping, cinematic quality of Alex Lopez’s new We Can Take This Boat makes perfect sense, really. After all, the saxophonist/composer’s debut, due on Nov. 22, follows earlier work on a series of independent films in New York City. An all-original effort, Lopez makes good on a series of named influences that include both John Coltrane and Bruce Lee, offering these smart jazz foundations punctuated by sharp, jabbing solos. He’s joined here by a group of able sidepersons that includes pianist Sam Harris, guitarist Greg Duncan, bassist Linda Oh and drummer Norman Edwards. Together, they’ve fashioned an eight-song project that’s both modern (“Rejected,” “Self-Fulfilling Prophecy,” the truly thrilling fusion-y finale “Trying to Start Over”), and at times quite lyrical (the title track, “Curtains,” “End of a Dream”). As weird as it sounds, this really does combine Coltrane’s warm, but at times very challenging tone with Lee’s artfully damaging thrusts.

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‘Half Notes’ are quick-take thoughts on music from Something Else! Reviews, presented whenever the mood strikes us.

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