Published Jun 11, 2020Trombone player and composer Ryan Porter is probably best known for his frequent collaborations with saxophone prodigy Kamasi Washington. He's appeared on both of Washington's spiritual jazz monsters The Epic and Heaven and Earth, but Porter has been actively releasing his own records over the past three years.
Live in Paris at New Morning — recorded live in Paris at New Morning jazz club, of course — has a star-studded lineup consisting of Porter, Washington, drummer Tony Austin, pianist Brandon Coleman, trumpet player Jumaane Smith and bassist Miles Mosley, all members of the West Coast Get Down jazz collective. The setlist, which covers both Porter's more post-bop/fusion-style The Optimist and spiritual/fusion-style Force for Good, also includes two covers, one by Roy Hargrove and the other by Oscar Pettiford.
Every performer brings their all to the live set, with standout solos including Coleman's spindly and winding improvisations during "Mesosphere" and Washington's energetic crescendo on closer "Carriacou." But these solos don't overshadow the rest of the record in any way. Porter certainly holds his own, Smith showcases consistently solid trumpet solos and the tight rhythm section of Mosley and Austin shines throughout.
There is something to be desired on the sound quality front, as the audience can occasionally distract from the performances. The production and overall recording quality can also leave some of the instruments sounding thin at points (especially Coleman's piano). But as far as live jazz in 2020 goes, fans of the genre can't go wrong. The diverse moods and genres played, as well as the lineup of some of modern jazz's brightest stars, make for a solid showcase of the state of jazz today. (World Galaxy Records)