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Matt Slocum: Portraits (2010)

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Matt Slocum: Portraits How we rate: our writers tend to review music they like within their preferred genres.

Matt Slocum's multicolored traps—at times forceful or delicate, creatively painting varied tempos with the essence of swing—define the drummer's debut, Portraits. Hailing from St. Paul, Minnesota, Slocum's introduction carries forward the torch of patriarchs Max Roach
Max Roach
Max Roach
1925 - 2007
drums
and Elvin Jones
Elvin Jones
Elvin Jones
1927 - 2004
drums
amongst others, but he also carves out his own rhythmic patterns with young contemporaries such as Eric Harland
Eric Harland
Eric Harland
b.1976
drums
and Johnathan Blake.

Slocum is joined by equally distinguished peers: award-winning pianist Gerald Clayton

, whose own debut, Two-Shade (ArtistShare, 2009), was well received; and resolute bassist Massimo Biolcati
Massimo Biolcati
Massimo Biolcati
b.1972
bass
, a longtime associate of guitarist Lionel Loueke
Lionel Loueke
Lionel Loueke
b.1973
guitar
. Portraits is mostly a trio outing, with special guest saxophonists Walter Smith III
Walter Smith III
Walter Smith III
b.1980
sax, tenor
, Jaleel Shaw
Jaleel Shaw
Jaleel Shaw
b.1978
sax, alto
and Dayna Stephens
Dayna Stephens
Dayna Stephens

sax, tenor
, all noteworthy young voices, appearing on a couple of tracks.

Slocum presses forward with scintillating new material that has emotion and drive, unveiling nuanced charts like the stylish "Cambria," whose melody is suffused with a swinging glow. The trio's communication is palpable—each player's effervescence supporting and lifting each other and the music to higher grounds. But fertile soil is also tilled to great effect on the cover of Duke Ellington

Duke Ellington
Duke Ellington
1899 - 1974
piano
's "Daydream," where Smith plays with a deep tone, like an old soul from times past, and where Slocum's cymbal and mallet touches are simply haunting.

"Seven Stars" shifts with ease between heated modality and cool, marked by ubiquitous drums, torrential horns salvos and complexity touching sweet melodism to create one of the recording's best pieces. The remainder of the set follows form, including "Illusions and Delusions," featuring Stephens' tenor providing warmth, and "Avenida del Paraiso," with Biolcati's quaking bass and Slocum's spidery traps creating an intricate web for Clayton to navigate.

Present day jazz is clearly not stagnate in the very good hands (and sticks) of Matt Slocum—a young drummer who plays with empathy and verve.

Track Listing: Homage; Cambria; Daydream; Shadows; For Alin; Seven Stars; Portraits; Illusions and Delusions; Avenida del Paraiso.

Personnel: Gerald Clayton: piano; Massimo Biolcati: bass; Matt Slocum: drums; Walter Smith III: tenor saxophone (1, 3); Jaleel Shaw: alto saxophone (6); Dayna Stephens: tenor saxophone (6, 8).

Record Label: Chandra Records

Style: Straight-ahead/Mainstream


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