Brandee Younger | Wax & Wane

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Jazz: Jazz-Funk Jazz: Mainstream Jazz Moods: Instrumental
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Wax & Wane

by Brandee Younger

"Evoking the musical equivalent of rare gems, Younger emerges from the legacies of Dorothy Ashby and Alice Coltrane as she ushers in a new era that celebrates the unsung titan of string instruments." - Revive Music
Genre: Jazz: Jazz-Funk
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  Song Share Time Download
1. Soul Vibrations
4:42 album only
2. Essence of Ruby
5:46 album only
3. Ruby Echo
2:04 album only
4. Afro Harping
3:15 album only
5. Wax and Wane
4:11 album only
6. Ebony Haze
1:45 album only
7. Black Gold
4:53 album only
Downloads are available as MP3-320 files.


Album Notes
Trading in the musical equivalent of rare gems, harpist Brandee Younger emerges from the legacies of Dorothy Ashby and Alice Coltrane to usher in a new era for the unsung titan of string instruments with the arrival of the 7-track Wax & Wane LP. Born during the REVIVE Music and Blue Note Records sessions for Supreme Sonacy Vol. 1, the album is a testament to Younger’s musical forebears that fuses classical technique with the persistent groove at the core of the black musical canon. “Wax & Wane represents constant change -- back and forth. We chose it as the title of the project because it is truly representative of the human experience -- as an artist and individual. The high points and low points coloring the continuous struggle for balance at every phase of the journey exist - as they do in daily life - at the core of all of my work. “Wax and Wane” is also one of Dorothy Ashby’s compositions from The Rubaiyat of Dorothy Ashby.”

Spiritually transcendent and perennially fresh, Wax & Wane strikes a delicate balance between pushing the envelope and flat out breaking the mold. With this collection, Younger presents an altered universe where the fluttering polyphonic exchange of the harp and flute expand and contract against a dense rhythmic display. Produced by Casey Benjamin, Wax and Wane features flutist Anne Drummond alongside saxophonist Chelsea Baratz, bassist Dezron Douglas, drummer Dana Hawkins and guitarist Mark Whitfield. Celebrated string duo Chargaux joins Younger for the project’s interludes. Each a beautiful foray into the versatility of the harp, “Ruby Echo” and “Ebony Haze” eschew persistent thump for flowering chromatic adagios and folk.

Beginning with “Soul Vibrations”, the rhythm section grooves hard over an A-minor vamp. Casey Benjamin reimagines the Sun-Ra inflected original penned by the late arranger/composer and bassist Richard Evans. Reharmonizing the bassline, Benjamin launches the tune into another dimension without sacrificing the soul first imparted by the celebrated producer responsible for piloting a number of Dorothy Ashby recordings on the Cadet label, including Afro-Harping and The Rubaiyat of Dorothy Ashby. “Essence of Ruby” began as a solo harp recording that would ultimately become a showcase for Anne Drummond’s flute and Chelsea Baratz’s tenor. Rising and falling against a persistent vamp on the infectious theme, their performance is a sonic metaphor that reinforces the title of the project and defies time and space with an otherworldly sound.

“Afro Harping” is a clinic in breaking with convention that finds Younger stepping outside of her comfort zone to discover a new kind of cool with the band’s rework of the title track from the legendary 1968 Afro-Harping LP, which is often referred to as Ashby’s best work. Flute and guitar lay the foundation for a rework that dials back the obvious funk of the original recording, replacing it with a stout bass vamp that conjures the low end of Hancock’s Fat Albert Rotunda and elevates a masterful performance from Younger, who plays without the usual comping in her left hand.

The title track deconstructs the African groove at the heart of the composition from The Rubaiyat of Dorothy Ashby, reducing it down to a dense shuffle. Guitarist Mark Whitfield’s fret work on “Wax and Wane” is the harp-inspired foil for Younger’s movements - at once liberated and feather-light despite the band’s stated mission to remain true to the Ashby original. “Black Gold” began as a laid back arrangement for trio. Reimagining Younger’s original composition, Dezron Douglas and Dana Hawkins create a high energy theme that juxtaposes driving percussion with the graceful statements of Anne’s flute. Both elegiac and elegant, Wax & Wane’s interludes take listeners on a pair of hyper-emotional jaunts that epitomize the delicate movement and intricate detail at the heart of string performance.

With the release of Wax & Wane, Brandee Younger is poised to take her place as a sonic tour de force and the latest innovator in a lineage of groundbreaking musical agitators demanding the rise of the harp. “I want listeners to walk away with a different perspective on the harp’s place in music. For people to know that the instrument can play a fully functioning role in many settings. That it is not limited to any style or genre. In order for that to happen, expectations have to change. I will continue to do all that I can to help change them.”



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