Stereophile: Performance 4.5/5 Stars / Sonics 4/5 Stars
Vibraphonist Joel Ross' follow-up to his widely acclaimed debut KingMaker, which made Best of 2019 lists in NPR Music, Rolling Stone and more. The album features Ross' Good Vibes band with Immanuel Wilkins on alto saxophone, Jeremy Corren on piano, Kanoa Mendenhall on bass & Jeremy Dutton on drums, plus harpist Brandee Younger on several tracks. "This record is a culmination of our maturing - as people, as a band, within the music - it's about figuring out who we are."
Inspired by communication through storytelling - a method he absorbed, in part, working with such creative forces as Ambrose Akinmusire, Marquis Hill and Makaya McCraven - and with input from producer Walter Smith III, Ross assembled the album's narrative in halves. Tracks 1-7 provide setting, as well as character introductions; tracks 8-15, plot twists. Each artist advances the spirit of risk-taking, while maintaining Ross' vision for story structure.
Ross' playing erupts through the layers of lush arrangements like consistent currents of electricity, high-powered and full of luminous energy
The bright future stretching before Ross has as much to do with that emotional expression as anything that happens between his mallets and those metal bars
A notable achievement of this album is its maturity as a collaborative artistic statement. Solos flow into and out of one another so organically that you don't always notice when the primary source of invention has shifted. Ross's lush tones rain down everywhere. Wilkins's outbreaks are something intriguing every time he spills sideways from a song. Often, these three make an interactive spontaneous choir. Mendenhall and Dutton are not accompanists: They are out front with their energy and drama. Yet they never crowd the musical space. Even ballads like Ross's 'Waiting on a Solemn Reminiscence' generate incantatory fervor, barely contained. The impression is of volatile lyricism. 'After the Rain,' Coltrane's great reverential ceremony, is translated to vibraphone. Wilkins takes Trane's saxophone part but stays deep within the ensemble, suspending time in a hovering, collective rubato.
- 180g Vinyl
- Double LP
- Gatefold jacket
|Immanuel Wilkins||alto saxophone|
- After The Rain
- Waiting On A Solemn Reminiscence
- King's Loop
- The Nurturer
- Gato's Gift
- When My Head Is Cold
- Such Is Life