Wednesday, June 10, 2020

Gary Bartz & Maisha - Night Dreamer Direct​-​To​-​Disc Sessions (Night Dreamer, 2020)

Legendary American alto and soprano saxophonist Gary Bartz and British world jazz ensemble Maisha combine for an excellent meeting of the minds. Playing two Bartz compositions and three collaborative performances, this album goes well beyond group and featured soloist to a truly integrated setting where the music evolves organically where age is no boundary. "Harlem to Haarlem" has bubbling drums and percussion that produces an infectious rhythm, with bass and guitar and finally horns folding in for a sweet and dynamic theme. Bartz has a light and agile sound that floats and weave around the group in an impressive fashion, with everyone locked in on a fine groove. He solos over keyboards with the band framing him, playing in a sly and genial fashion, spooling out a lengthy feature that works very well as the band keeps a feisty beat moving around him. A brief yet strong trumpet interlude rings true before everyone comes back to the alluring theme and concludes a very fine opening performance. The bounding and soulful theme of "The Stank" works very well to propel the music forward with interlocked horns and choppy guitar and percussion leading the way. Bartz breaks out with a joyful sounding solo leaping over the deeply rhythmic backdrop, everything is played in a bright and accessible manner that should entices jazz fans new and old. The guitarist comes to the forefront, adding sparks to the heavy percussion vibe, before lashing into a driving solo that fits in well with the urgent drumming before leading back into the theme that sees everyone returning for a safe landing. "Dr. Follows Dance" concludes the album with an abstract opening, closer to free jazz than anything else on the album, before everything falls into place with bubbling percussion and riffing horns and the music develops into a deep and funky feeling with guitar leading the way, developing a dynamic and expressive feature. The horns riff and joust over rolling hand percussion, Bartz solos in a genial fashion floating over the block party that has broken out underneath him and playing with spirit and grace. Everyone returns to a collective improvisation that fades out while sounding like it could go all night. This was a very successful project, hopefully one that can be continued in the future. The London jazz scene is so fertile with young jazz talent, pairing them with jazz masters from the US and beyond could only be a boon to both parties. Night Dreamer Direct-to-Disc Sessions - amazon.com

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