Guitarist Brad Allen Williams has an upfront quality to his style of play. There's a simple essence here with just a touch of flare without ostentatiousness. The bluesy, rootsiness of his sound certainly brings to mind the Memphis tone for which he strove with his new album, Lamar. The stripped-down essence of these songs alongside Pat Bianchi on Hammond organ and Tyshawn Sorey at some of his most direct playing on drums culminates in an altogether pleasant listen.
Christian Scott aTunde Adjuah plays three different horns on his new album, Stretch Music (Introducing Elena Pinderhughes)-- the siren, the sirenette, and the reverse flugelhorn. They're horns by his own design. They are somewhat more difficult to play than the typical trumpet. They are as attuned to his style of play-- crafted, beaten and broken and lovingly bent to make music likely only he can make. They are as crafted and designed as his band, a group that has gone through a certain degree of molding over the years as well, and has been through its own loving process of craft together to make this music. They function as tools for expression, specialized as if for a surgeon forging new roads through medicine. Only this man can wield these horns, like John Henry's hammer. It's careful craft and attention to detail and design that to this same degree is the essence of Stretch Music, another in a fine line of Christian Scott albums that always seem to arrive at just the perfect times.
One can never tell what Will Holland will do next. The producer for the last fifteen years has never ceased to amaze with the music he has made that seems somehow timeless in its soulfulness. He's like a fuzzy, musical nucleus that manages to keep time floating in orbit. That same feeling carries over to his latest venture, the group The Western Transient, which includes musicians like Sylvester Onyejiaka, aka Sly5thAve, and keyboardist Brandon Coleman. What results is a totally chill album called A New Constellation.
There exists a certain pocket of jazz -- somewhere in that R&B, funky ether, if you hit smooth jazz, you've gone too far -- where great things can happen. In this pocket is play. In this pocket is dance. In this pocket is authenticity. This authenticity cannot be faked, perfectly synchronized in a music school with its soul excavated. It comes from a hearth with a past; it's honed in groups that engender these things together. One can hear this immediately in the debut self-titled EP from Richmond, VA's Future Prospect.
Liberty Ellman has often been a secret weapon. Maybe it's what he's learned from the M-Base musical school of thought. Maybe his ears are made of pure magic. He's like salt-- seasoning and improving anything he's added to. In that regard, Ellman's collaborators often are as much a part of his voice as he is. It's always a delight to hear him play with bassist Stephan Crump or alto saxophonist Steve Lehman. Having them together in this configuration, blowing the lid off another group of compositions is an engrossing pleasure.