Wednesday, January 22, 2020

Jeff Davis - The Fastness (Fresh Sound New Talent, 2019)

This is an excellent album combining modern jazz with elements of fusion led by Jeff Davis on drums and vibraphone, Tony Malaby on tenor and soprano saxophones, Jonathan Goldberger on guitar, Russ Lossing on piano, Fender Rhodes electric piano and Hammond B3 organ and Eivind Opsvik on bass. They are able to conjure a wide range of sounds on this well paced album on tracks like "Go Away Glasses" where there is gradual buildup and atmospheric smears of electric piano and guitar and these instruments reverberate in space, creating a fascinating soundscape. Malaby solos on soprano saxophone, and the music retains a sense of mystery with sections of spaciness and collective playing that is strong and vibrant. "Obvious Nemesis" has upbeat tenor saxophone and drums framed by gritty sounding keyboards. The bass and drums really push hard, driving Lossing's keyboard forward and allowing him to achieve a unique sound and attack. The saxophone returns leading to a strong full band section with pulsating drums and scalding saxophone. Saxophone develops a yearning sound on "Wednesday Shirt" with the guitar adding atmosphere and the music turns menacing, as the full group comes together and breaks out into a roar. There is a loud and fast takeoff with an epic guitar and drum interaction, as organ and sax snarl together creating an epic ride. "Bird Monkey" takes the music in a different direction, with a fast complex acoustic piano introduction, using agile clusters of notes amid thick bass and nimble drumming. Tenor sax adds fuel to the fire the trio has created, completing a powerful and impressive acoustic improvisation and including a short crushing drum solo for the leader. The full band opens "New Good Brother" at a fast and dedicated clip, with shards of electric guitar breaking out and showering notes over the keyboard, bass and drums unit. This is an excellent feature for Goldberger's guitar playing followed by raw toned tenor saxophone that pulls the music into a tense spiral. The Fastness -

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