Jonathan Kreisberg: Shadowless (2011)
Jonathan Kreisberg's music sounds so fresh and new that it seems to have escaped from a parallel universe through a virtual doorassaulting the senses in the known onewhere everything else exists in brain-numbing manner. From the first notes he strikes, the guitarist creates a jolting spark, starting an accelerating fire that lights up the taut voices of Will Vinson's stormy saxophone, Matt Penman's palpitating bass, the shifting rhythms of drummer Mark Ferber...even rushing Henry Hey's otherwise pensive piano. For his part, Kreisberg controls all the seemingly alien energy he exudes. The voluminous muscle of the music emanates from a vortex inside his musical brain, cascading out of fingers that flutter and fly across his guitar.
With all of this free-flowing energy swirling about, it bears mention that Kreisberg maintains a sublime command, not only of virtuoso performance, but also over stylistic voicings that seem to echo from the ghosts of jazzmen past. These are only broad and angular influences, of course, and principle among them is the gigantic spirit of John Coltrane. Kreisberg sways and pirouettes with the same deeply spiritual feeling as 'Trane did, especially in the twilight of his career. However, Kreisberg's is a singular voice, billowing with swelling harmony etched into melodies that skitter and gambol with energy and excitement. The guitarist has such a sublime command of rhythm that he is able to discern what comes from the interior of the melody, and what shapes the whole piece, as it drives the exterior architecture of the whole song.
It is not easy to communicate the heart of each narrative with feeling, as well as jostling the rhythm to shift and change it either brazenly or subtly, as Kreisberg does. And then there is his sense of where the finest and most appropriate harmonies lie, as he leads the improvisations. Finally, there is the sense of how to return, if only fleetingly, slyly and magnificently to the original harmony so as to retain the legendary shape of the song. His absolute devastation of the rhythmic structure of George Gershwin's "Nice Work if You Can Get It" is a sublime and absolutely memorable example of this kind of command. His own compositions, especially the roaring "Twenty One" and the almost mythical and thunderous ascent of "The Common Climb," offer another dynamic angle to the art of the song. They are elastic, yet meticulously structured and burst with nuclear energy.
However, not all the music here is of blood and guts and gore. The delicacy of touch and timbre in "Long, Like a Mercury Day" and the elegiac quality of "Defying Gravity" are driven by emotions that are palpably soft. Clearly Kreisberg also has a soft-centered heart. Who can blame him for this? Music, after all, is the food of love and the guitarist shows how expert and unusual he is at expressing this too in music that is truly unforgettable.
Track Listing: Twenty One; Stir the Stars; Shadowless; Zembékiko; Long, Like a Mercury Day; The Common Climb; Defying Gravity; Nice Work if You Can Get It.
Personnel: Jonathan Kreisberg: guitar; Will Vinson: saxophone, piano (6); Henry Hey: piano; Matt Penman: bass; Mark Ferber: drums; Rich Stein: tambourine (6).
Record Label: New for Now Music
Style: Modern Jazz