Album Review of

Written by Joe Ross
December 18, 2020 - 10:56pm EST
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Based in New York, Mariel Bildsten demonstrates a proficient technical mastery of her tricky instrument, the trombone. Backbone makes a solid debut statement for the young lady who schooled at Manhattan School of Music and has held the lead trombonist chair in Arturo O’Farrill Afro-Jazz Orchestra. Her Quintet also features Stacy Dillard (tenor and soprano saxophones), Sean Mason (piano), Ben Wolfe (bass) and Evan Sherman (drums). Percussionist Keisel Jimenez appears on “The Lamp is Low.”  Bildsten offers dashing, impressive solos in the six songs. Some of the most exciting musical conversations take place between Bildsten and Dillard on pieces like Horace Silver’s “Ecaroh” and Harold Arlen’s “The Man That Got Away.” She imparts a sweet interpretive twist to the classic “Mood Indigo” that is arranged, in rawboned fashion, for just trombone and bass. “Rosita” is an appealing ballad with heart and soul, while “Monaco” is tightly crafted to evolve from its mellow start to a poignant, swinging conclusion.  Bildsten leads a contagious, lively groove to close the album with the Latin-infused “The Lamp is Low.” It’s nice to see the trombone take center stage on this project. Bildsten demonstrates how the instrument has many expressive voices and is truly the Backbone of this jazz quintet. Being a hardworking, yet humble, New York musician has also taught the artist how to be tough, real, and have a backbone. Backbone is a mighty powerful set, full of excitement, emotional impact and virtuosity. (Joe Ross, Roots Music Report)