The Japan Times OnlineLISTENING POST
Ryan Kisor Quartet
By MICHAEL PRONKO
The "young lions" was a phrase used (in fact, overused) to describe the resurgence of young jazz musicians in New York that started in the 1980s. More marketing tool than stylistic category, young lions still felt like a term of respect, all things considered. One of the best, and youngest, of this generation of well-schooled, market-savvy musicians was trumpeter Ryan Kisor, who brings his band to Japan this week.
Since his first release in 1992 at age 19, Kisor has pursued his career his way. Like the other young lions, Kisor works with post-bop seriousness, and is respectful of, though not confined by, past conventions. He has played with the Mingus Big Band and Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra, two of the more preservation-minded groups in New York, yet started his own quintet earlier than most jazz musicians would dare.
Like a precocious youth, he wedges his voice into the conversation of past trumpeting greats. He lets bits and pieces of Miles Davis, Chet Baker and his near-contemporary, Wynton Marsalis, come through in his tone and technique, but Ryan's voice remains loud and clear amid the giants.
Recently, as on his aptly named "This Is Ryan," he takes on challenging classics from Dizzy Gillespie and Kenny Dorham. Amid those tricky numbers, though, he includes originals that flow with the natural, organic vitality of a musician much older and wiser. His lack of ego, though, nicely distinguishes him from many of his cohorts. One of the best of the new generation of jazz musicians, Kisor's approach to jazz strikes rare artistic balances -- hip yet unpretentious, warm but very intense.
The Ryan Kisor Quartet plays July 29 at JZ Brat, Tokyo; July 30 at Meiho Jazz Festival, Gifu; July 31 at Erde Hall, Himeji, Hyogo; Aug. 1 at Jazz on Top, Osaka; Aug. 3 at BrickBlock, Oita; Aug. 5 at Club J, Tokyo; Aug. 7 at Mamo, Gifu. Information on all shows from Mon Productions, tel. (03) 3470-0427.
The Japan Times: July 24, 2005
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