There are times when I receive some odd, angular, challenging album and find it so off-putting it’s downright unlikeable. I find it to be some sort of problem with jazz– how do so many musicians make such frenetic, shambling, unlikeable music and bemoan why the masses just don’t come running to their obvious brilliance? Surely it must be something wrong some with the public, not they, the composers of such onanistic, headache-inducing claptrap. But then there’s the other side of the coin. Sometimes I receive some odd, angular, challenging album and stand bewildered of all that it is– art worthy of repeated contemplation, songs that function as prayers as much as they function as the catalytic altar calls. Drummer Franklin Kiermyer’s latest album, Further, is, by all means, the latter.
The drummer whose time playing with the legendary Pharoah Sanders on 1994’s Solomon’s Daughter hearkens back to that same vibe with his latest album, which he’s releasing digitally only and for free at his Further website in mp3 (as well as in WAV format for donation in addition to the usual digital sales routes of iTunes and Amazon).
This album is the sound of incense burning, the extract of vinyl distilled bit and bytes. It’s a recording of a captured moment– the quartet of Kiermyer on drums, the general consensus Coltrane successor Azar Lawrence on saxophone, Benito Gonzalez on piano, and Juini Booth on bass spoke little about the music and some direction but essentially melded their energies together for a few spirited days in a studio in Norway. If Kiermyer was seriously shooting for the same vibe as John Coltrane’s A Love Supreme, he certainly pulled it off in spades.
Three of the album’s seven tracks are recorded live and somehow, this does make an impact. As musicians are won’t to do, Kiermyer’s quartet explore these songs… well… further. It’s live, there’s a moment happening, there’s an energy in the crowd. (You know how it goes.) This isn’t to say the group doesn’t carry this same ethereal energy all the way throughout the album, but the middle third of it does show a kind of restraint (for what it’s worth).
If anything, this album is a time machine. It’s the kind of album true veteran musicians make– the kinds of musicians who’ve played with Pharoah Sanders and McCoy Tyner and Miles Davis and Tony Williams and Masabumi Kikuchi in the past and have all intents to still make trippy, spacey, soulful music in the future. These guys bring it and those of us with ears, all throughout heaven and earth, are blessed to receive these sounds.
Franklin Kiermyer – drums
Azar Lawrence – saxophones
Benito Gonzalez – piano
Juini Booth – bass
produced by Franklin Kiermyer & Michael Cuscuna
recorded March 2013
mixed by Walter Quintus
mastered by Christian Obermayer
all songs © F. Kiermyer
except 3 + 7 © Kiermyer, Lawrence, Gonzalez, Booth
Nextbop Editor-in-Chief Anthony Dean-Harris hosts the modern jazz radio show, The Line-Up, Fridays at 9pm CST on 91.7 FM KRTU San Antonio and is also a contributing writer to DownBeat Magazine and the San Antonio Current.