Tuesday, November 10, 2020

Joel Ross - Who Are You? (Blue Note, 2020)

Last year, the debut album by vibraphonist and composer Joel Ross was met with great acclaim and he followed it up with strong appearances as a sideman and the recording of this fine follow up. His band Good Vibes brings together Jeremy Corren on piano, Immanuel Wilkins on alto saxophone, Jeremy Dutton on drums, Kanoa Mendenhall on bass and Brandee Younger joining on harp for some of the tracks. The piano, bass and drums trio open "More" with mid-tempo saxophone and vibes entering a bit later, and the full band setting the theme, with Wilkins developing a complex alto saxophone solo, followed by showers of piano notes amid opaque drumming lead to a sterling sounding vibraphone section. Ross plays a brief burst, leading to members of the band taking short solo sections before taking the tune out. John Coltrane's classic composition "After the Rain" is quite beautiful, melding vibraphone and harp in a patient manner that gradually works in the famous melody, with soft washes of percussion and well played saxophone. The music has a gauzy and spectral sense that hearkens back to the heyday of spiritual jazz without losing its modern grounding. "Varhta" has a complex weaving sense of interplay between the musicians which is stretched out over ten minutes allowing everyone a chance to explore the music. Wilkins once again plays a fast and nimble solo at lightning speed with immense control over his instrument, leading to another example of well played modern mainstream jazz that should entice any fan of the genre. Who Are You? - amazon.com

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