Jamie Stewardson: Jhaptal (2006)
These sounds on Jhaptal are a long way from the O'Jays, the Temptations, Pattie Page or the Drifters, but guitarist Jamie Stewardson began his performing career on a cruise ship backing these pop oldies acts before he moved on to the higher challenge of playing with the likes of George Russell, Jimmy Guiffre and Mat Maneri.
The arrangements all prove multilayered in this richly intricate ensemble outing with saxophone, vibes, guitar, bass and drums. No single member dominates the sound, though Tony Malaby, on tenor saxophone, sounds particularly inspired in a restrained, blend-into-the-collective-sound way, with something interesting going on behind him at all times, whether its Alexei Tsiganov's vibraphone glow or Stewardson's sometimes crunchy guitar licksa sound that says he'd be right at home in a rock venue, even though he's involved with a top-notch jazz sound here. The set is full of first-rate soloing, but the comping behind the solos by Stewardson and Tsiganov, and the big warm bass (John Hebert) and beautifully textural drumming (George Schuller) lays an always interesting foundation.
The title tune shows off Stewardson's interest in Indian music, and here, and throughout the suite-like set, the interplay of the quintet demands repeated listens.
Simmering tension over a feeling of just-contained tranquility by an ensemble that bounces and stings on a set of cerebral but approachable compositions makes Jhaptal a very worthy modern jazz offering.
Track Listing: T Can Shuffle; Bubbles; Jhaptal; Combinatoriality; Rest Area; Olive Oil; Cruel Traps; Dig Muse; For Dale and Roberta.
Personnel: Tony Malaby: tenor saxophone; Alexei Tsiganov: vibraphone; Jamie Stewardson: guitar; John Hebert: bass; George Schuller: drums.