Bill Fulton: Time (2002)
Keyboardist, composer and arranger Bill Fulton has achieved an amazing coup for contemporary jazz with Time. He has successfully broken the curse that has hung over jazz keyboards since the early 1980s, using excellent arrangements and a tight group of performers to give these combo tracks the sense of a larger ensemble. Bright production and a joyously expansive sound, enhanced by his judicious application of keyboard tones, make Time one of the best contemporary jazz albums in recent memory.
Fulton's keyboard parts and band charts are so smartly organized, starting with the instantly engaging "The Land That Time Forgot", these could easily be expanded into highly entertaining big-band arrangements. His compositions are varied and well-constructed, from the pensive "Maple St." (which switches between 4/4 and 3/4) to the acoustic ballad "Anthem" and holy-rollin' gospel of "New Religion", a tune which could truly make the angels sing.
The sidemen are wisely selected and, though not very well-known for now, show considerable promise. Several different groupings of players appear, since not all the tracks were recorded in the same studio. Bassist David Enos and drummer Jason Harnell form an especially good rhythm team, balancing creativity and propulsion on tracks like "Time Squared". Veteran hornman Carl Saunders contributes a marvelous flugelhorn guest spot on "In Your Dreams", and Brian Scanlon's bittersweet soprano sax aptly matches Fulton's lush piano on "Anthem".
All in all, this album represents what the state of contemporary jazz should be; nay, what it should have been for a long, long time. An absolutely magical achievement by an immensely talented performer and writer.
Track Listing: The Land That Time Forgot; Maple St.; Cow Poetry; Secrets; Anthem; Time Squared; New Religion; The Force; In Your Dreams; Time & Space.
Personnel: (Collective:) Bill Fulton, keyboards, piano, composing, arranging; David Enos, Adam Cohen, electric bass; Kevin Axt, acoustic bass; Jason Harnell, Kendall Kay, drums; Lee Thornburg, Mike McGuffey, trumpet; Carl Saunders, flugelhorn (solo on #9 only); Mike Nelson, Brian Scanlon, Tom Buckner, Fred Horn, saxophones.