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.
There must be something in the water in Richmond to produce this specific flavor of soulful sound. It would make sense that the constant aural curator and workman Devonne Harris would work with this band. This quintet — Ryan Moses on keys and synths, Try Sorrells on alto sax, Morgan Burrs on guitar, Brandon Lane on bass, and Cleandre Foster on drums — are as much a delight to listen to as their compatriots Butcher Brown. Their songs seem to inhabit a place where jazz should be in some respects– they’re fun to listen to, they can invoke dance, they jam (without jazz’s offputting to outsiders wankery). Frankly, they’re a damn good quintet, hands down.
Ryan Moses has a soft touch on the keyboards that accents perfectly when not pushing these compositions forward. Trey Sorrells’ sax playing is sprightly, memorable, and one of those voices that’ll be interesting to watch over the years. He’s smooth. Morgan Burrs is a great guitarist and adds perfect flavor this album, however from 6:02-6:07 of “Mrs. Future Prospect”, Burrs plays a riff that seems to quote “People Make the World Go Round” but it seems to devolve into some escalation of “The Lick”. Either this is some sort of wry joke or an unwitting slip (as “The Lick” tends to be), but it’s entertaining nonetheless. Brandon Lane is a more than apt bassist holding down the back end as any good funk bassist does. Cleandre Foster has monster tendencies on the drums that could be a sight to see (and a series of awesome crashes to hear) in a live setting, though he fares just fine here.
In essence, this is a debut EP, as many bands release. It’s the first statement a group makes in public, an introduction to who these folks are and what they’ve come to bring. This band is Future Prospect. They sound funky and smooth and your parents may like them, but that’s totally cool for you to like the same thing as your parents every now and then.They’re just that good. This is their album and they’re name is all over it, as it should be, because one could hope that if this is what Future Prospect is, we’ll know to keep looking out for them for a while.
Ryan Moses – Keys, Synth
Trey Sorrells – Alto Saxophone
Morgan Burrs – Guitar
Brandon Lane – Bass
Cleandre Foster – Drums
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.