February 29, 2016

Logan Richardson - Shift (2016)

Blue Note has really resurfaced in the past 10 years or so by signing a solid handful of the most trendy contemporary jazz guys. It's cool that the label is starting to start something new, but I've never really been able to get into this new stuff since these albums always tend to be some kind of mixture of being too glossy, too directionless, too experimental for the sake of being experimental, or full of stupid arrangement choices. I've seen this Shift album pop up on my Facebook newsfeed a few times so I thought I'd give it a shot--I liked the album art. This is a cool album--it sheds a lot of the pretension and disorganisation I usually hear in Blue Note's other recent releases. Jazz never seems to keep evolving; you'd think that the musicians would run out of ideas considering jazz is one of the earliest genres in music recording history. The music on Shift is a few worlds away from the post-bop of the 60s, but it is also not quite like the first wave of post-bop revival of the 90s and early 00s (think Joshua Redman, Branford Marsalis, Greg Osby, that Boondocks-esque music). It's even more angular than that stuff, and this album (like a lot of other recent jazz albums), uses reverb as some kind of ghost instrument. The guitar's tone is almost unlike anything I've ever heard in the genre--the closest thing I can compare it to is Sonny Sharrock's playing on those Pharoah and Miles albums. The guitar layering is this album's game changer, and it really pushes Richardson's alto wizardry to the forefront of the sound stage. The pianist and bassist switch between acoustic and electric seamlessly and those transitions show how well the band can adjust to these different atmospheres without falling apart into a disorganized mess. Logan Richardson doesn't ignore any post-bop influence and kind of pays homage to everything from Andrew Hill's late-60s albums, Wayne Shorter's electric period, the Miles Davis voodoo-funk era, and the Joshua Redman stuff; but he crafts something exciting and original. Check it out!


Shift - also on spotify