Sometimes, music defies oral or written description.
It’s best just to listen. That’s the feeling created by Bill Cantrall and
Axiom with Live at the Kitano (Up Swing Records, 2012). Recorded in
2010 at the Kitano Hotel in New York City, this recording is about as
close as one can get to being there.
A follow-up to Cantrall’s successful Axiom (2007), the set brings
back most of the players from that ensemble, performing six Cantrall
originals and one Cole Porter song. The performance and the audience’s
reaction are what one would expect in a straightforward jazz club.
The selections are “B.B.M,” “After You,” “Sharphead,” “Shaniece,” “Like I
Said,” “Axiom” and “Maker’s.” With the exception of the very brief closing
number, the songs range from nearly nine minutes to a blink shy of 24,
totaling more than 75 minutes. Each song presents strong interplay among
the musicians, audience response to solos as well as the end of each
The core ensemble are Cantrall on trombone, Stacy Dillard on tenor and
soprano saxophones, Rick Germanson on piano, Gerald Cannon on bass and
Darrell Green on drums. Alto saxophonist Mike DiRubbo and trumpeter
Freddie Hendrix step in for “Axiom.”
Cantrall joined the New York jazz scene in the late 1990s. His early
influences are Curtis Fuller, Lee Morgan, Wayne Shorter and many others.
He studied music and engineering at Northwestern University and gained
experience in Chicago’s club scene.
In mathematical terms, “axiom” is a self-evident truth that requires no
explanation. That, perhaps, is the best description of Live at the