The Jazz Project – September 2017

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John Abercrombie 1944 – 2017 – An Appreciation
Guitarist John Abercrombie is one of the rare artists whose music immortalized their souls among the living. Kings and queens may reign, but great musicians live forever. Think of all the music that is still here with us today. They are the gods who whisper in our ears in the evening breeze, dance with us and our loved ones, and sing praises as we bid farewell to those who have gone before us. We will miss you, John, but we will find unending pleasure in your music as we go forward.

Highlights in Mr. Abercrombie’s recording career were many and include the Gateway trio albums with Dave Holland and Jack DeJohnette; the duo albums with Ralph Towner; the Special Editions New Directions albums (with DeJohnette, Lester Bowie and Eddie Gomez); Jan Garbarek’s Eventyr; Charles Lloyd’s The Water Is Wide; Collin Walcott’s Grazing Dreams (where John and Don Cherry play together); Enrico Rava’s The Pilgrim and the Stars; Kenny Wheeler’s Deer Wan…the list goes on.

Honestly •••
Boney James, Saxophonist
Boney James’s new album, Honestly, first hits you with a sense of sincerity and intimacy, an experience you will enjoy even more if you follow my lead and listen to the title track, “Honestly,” featuring vocalist Avery Sunshine, followed with the heart-warming performance by vocalist Eric Roberson on “If I Can’t Hold You.” Mr. James produced his album and co-wrote all but one track, the beautiful and enduring classic “Skylark” by Johnny Mercer and Hoagy Carmichael. Fans of the smooth jazz genre will welcome the more boisterous songs like “Kicks” or “Up All Night.” Standouts include the hip R&B “Tick Tok,” featuring horn arrangement by Jerry Hey,
Some music is at times a character itself, creating a tapestry of sounds that takes you back into your past of memorable experiences. Honestly with its high notes will do just that.

Far From Over •••
Vijay Iyer Sextet, ECM
The latest album from pianist Vijay Iyer is a startling reminder of how alive jazz music can be with its brilliant nuances, embryonic emotions, and the natural flow of its creative energies. It’s an ecstatic moment in time when the power of the music radiates and magnetizes our world with its song, poem or hymn of joy, love and hope. And for some jazz lovers the music heard here is their joie de vivre, or greater, their raison d’etre. Far From Over is a beautiful embrace of the living as exemplified in “For Amiri Baraka” and “Wake,” followed by “Threnody,” a kind of celebratory ode to the memory of a loved one. A constitutional jazz monument of excellent performances from musicians Vijay Iyer (piano, Fender Rhodes), Graham Haynes (cornet, flugelhorn), Steve Lehman (alto saxophone), Mark Shim (tenor saxophone), Stephan Crump (double bass), and Tyshawn Sorey (drums).

Intangible •••
Patrick Bradley, Keyboardist
The spiritually-minded jazz fusion keyboardist Patrick Bradley’s new album with producer, Jeff Lorber, pays respectful homage to such keyboard giants Keith Emerson, Richard Wright, George Duke, Joe Sample and Jon Lord, seminal musicians who influence and inform this musician on his contemporary jazz, rock, fusion and R&B music. Mr. Bradley also gives credit to bass players Chris Squire and Jaco Pastorius and guitarist Alan Holdsworth for their influences on his approach to arrangement and melodies.
One of the most outstanding qualities of Intangible is the enhanced dimension that Mr. Bradley developed under Mr. Lorber, namely the ability to perform as a trilingual keyboardist: piano, Hammond B3 organ and Moog synthesizer. The result is music that dispenses harmonies in equal measures of power and grace, poignant and propulsive, riveting and rousing, and cerebral and accessible. Mr. Bradley’s multi-voiced keyboard approach makes an individual track seem as if it is helmed by more than one protagonist, with each unique keyboard instrument providing a different perspective on the melodies. In addition to the heavy usage of the Hammond B3 along with frequent spacy Moog forays, the album’s distinctive brand also consists of deep-pocketed grooves constructed by live instrumentation from a core unit of prominent musicians – guitarists Adam Hawley and Michael Thompson, bassist Jimmy Haslip, drummer Gary Novak and Mr. Lorber on synth bass, guitar and additional keyboards. A handful of cuts are bolstered by the brawn and bravura of David Mann’s horns. Paul Jackson Jr. cranks out a gale force of electric guitar riffs on “Tail Wind” while Andrew Carney’s trumpet thrives animatedly while exploring “Newport Coast.”