Monday, October 21, 2019

Kneebody - Chapters (Edition Records, 2019)

Kneebody is a modern jazz band that also draws liberally from pop and world music. On this album, the core band consists of Ben Wendel on saxophones and effects, Shane Endsley on trumpet and effects, Adam Benjamin on keyboards and Nate Wood on drums and bass, and the group is joined on a number of tracks by guest musicians and vocalists. This fresh modern approach is shown on "The Trip," where guest Gerald Clayton makes his presence felt on piano and the group anchors a crisp, fast drumbeat with trumpet developing a fast and jaunty full band swing. The complex rhythm takes a step down for a spacier interlude, making way for a saxophone solo, and Wendel makes the most of it, developing a hard edged and steely tone and driving the full band forward over rippling piano. Keyboards build focus over ominous bass lines on "Hearts Won't Break" building a heavy electronic tinged groove with soulful vocals from Josh Dion who also adds synth bass and extra percussion. The music evolves into a horn driven motion, with hard riffing and a rhythm and blues tinged saxophone section backed by slashing drums. "Chapters" is given over to the core quartet with the horns playing along with urgent bass and drums, where the musicians deeply locked in together, so they can step back and push forward dynamically, led by keyboards and bass and a deeply punchy trumpet solo. The group is also able to develop an interesting texture on "Spectra" where the electronic keyboards lead the full band into a fast performance that also involves vocalizations, creating interesting and varied textures. The band is pushing hard with trumpet and electronics, allowing the waves of disparate sound to come together in one cohesive identity. The title Chapters refers to a reinvention and retrenchment of the Kneebody aesthetic marking a new beginning with a new line-up and a record label, but the commitment to the music remains the same. The addition of the guests and vocals provides a diversity of selections under the umbrella of their overall sound, showing the diversity and malleability that is inherent in their music. Chapters -

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