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Larry Vincent

Perhaps it's reasonable to assume that jazz is a lost craft. That the world has passed it by. There are, after all, so many amazing new things out there to hear. But on occasion, when walking past some dive bar in a shady part of town, one hears a saxophonist or drummer or singer playing something that, for lack of a better term, is remarkable. It's times like these that one feels transplanted to another time where "drum and bass" had a different meaning.

It's still more remarkable when a musician evokes such a sensation on their first record. You may not be a jazz aficionado, or even own any jazz music, but you'd be hard-pressed to say that Larry Vincent isn't a damn fine musician or that he doesn't know his way around a guitar. Maybe you can't put your finger on this newcomer's music sounds so polished. Well, being able to play jazz is only one part of putting out a memorable recording; the company you keep often plays an equal (or greater) part.

Vincent, a native of Venezuela, is known to haunt many a nightclub in Knoxville, Tennessee, as well as the University of Tennessee's renowned jazz department. He studied there under guitarist Mark Boling, so naturally he turned to the veteran when assembling a group to record his first album, In Exile -- perhaps so titled to remind us of his origin (before getting his master's degree in jazz, Vincent performed extensively throughout South America).

Also joining him are Donald Brown, a master pianist and UT faculty member whose own exploits include several solo albums and performances with the Art Blakey Group, Joe Henderson, Freddie Hubbard, and countless others. Of course, Brown's piano playing is only one part of the group's dynamic, but on many tracks it sets the pace and tone. Rusty Holloway (also a member of the Mark Boling Trio) steps in on bass. Holloway (another member of the faculty) has graced the stage with such notables as Dizzy Gillespie, Monty Alexander, and Sarah Vaughn, and was also a member of The Woody Herman Orchestra (which featured players such as Joe Lovano and Tim Hagans). Rounding out the group are drummer Chris Gray and saxophonist Tom Johnson.

While it's certainly not the hub of jazz, Knoxville has its share of amazing artists, who seem grow in number and stature every year. While jazz may not be at the forefront of today's music scene, it's refreshing to hear someone who hasn't lost an appreciation for one of America's most important musical genres. As long as there are artists like Vincent, Boling, Brown, and Holloway, we can be assured that jazz is not a lost art.

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