How we rate: our writers tend to review music they like within their preferred genres.
A departure from the norm should always yield a surprising and refreshing view. That’s exactly what Joe Gallant’s new recording, Shadowhead, delivers. His musical vision and imagination are unique, and surround the listener in a cornucopia of modern music. This is music that will not be easily categorized in its total form. There are traces of Hip Hop and urban soundscapes. There’s Latin, Rock, Street, Spoken Word, and voice. There are liquid synthesizers, jungle percussive beats, samples, loops, distorted guitars, melodic strings, and many other sounds that work together to create strange yet familiar environments. The jazz vibe is strong, reflecting tight rhythms that swing and groove with elements of Big Band, Afro-Cuban, and Avant-Garde. There are tight and explosive horn arrangements that would make Mingus smile. Expect the unexpected. Just as the listener settles into a comfortable listening zone, Joe and his illuminating Iluminati ensemble, journey to totally strange and exciting territories within each selection. This is not grandmother’s type of music, unless granny is one willing to trip the light fantastic. The hypno/funk groove “Liquid Heart”, transports the listener to an almost alien destination, whereas the title cut “Shadowhead”, drops the listener right into the heart of a dark urban street scene. Cinematic could be the operative word for this session.
The talented leader Joe Gallant, whose day gig consists of being the sound designer for the CBS program, Guiding Light, is one serious bassist. His Contrabass lines are deep and robust on every selection. His solos are creative and masterful. Listen to the hypnotic bass melody on the cut, “Che”. Cool Stuff. The timely use of strings add rich layers to the inventive process. Gallant’s Iluminati ensemble, which features over twenty talented musicians are skilled, creative, and truly propel this recording beyond the mundane contemporary music scene into one that is unique and fun.
Personnel: Maxim Moston - violin; Joe Deninzon - violin; David Gotay - cello; Julia Kent cello; Rob Henke - trumpet; Barbara Cifelli - soprano sax; Jeff Newell - soprano sax; Jody Espina - alto, tenor & soprano sax; Erik Lawrence - tenor sax; Rick Faulkner - trombone; Bob Hovey - trombone; Catherine Russell - voice; Karen Mantler - voice; Lex Grey - voice; Calamity Jen - voice; Paul Anthony Stewart - voice; Evan Gallagher - piano & synthesizer; Scott Chasolen - Hammond B3 Organ; Andrea Beth Paykin - synthesizer & voice; Rolf Sturm - guitar; Rob Wolfson - guitar; Jaren Barkan - guitar; Gary Miles - guitar & voice; Joe Gallant - contrabass guitar, sound design & additionals; Alan Lerner - drums & percussion; George Hooks - percussion