How we rate: our writers tend to review music they like within their preferred genres.
Deep, brooding grooves, gravelly bass, taut piano lines that stride forward with lithe, contained energy... the music on The Music According to Lafayette Gilchrist feels as if it is about to explode, held in check only by the tight grasp of strict discipline.
This tension between barely checked frenzy and control not only seeps into each piece, but defines much of the album's distinctive character, as the music stalks panther-like through the dark tunnels of each composition's urban contours. The album's opening track, "Assume the Position," operates like a statement of purpose, bass and drums maintaining a heavy pulse, while Gilchrist, augmented by a phalanx of horns, lays down piano improvisations steeped in confidence. As with the following tracks, it is not Gilchrist's technical abilities that immediately capture the senses, it's the mood he evokes, his ability to build structures so narrative they feel almost cinematic.
Other highlights include the sinisterly creeping "Rumble," whose deliberate somnabulance acts as a backdrop for the nuanced performances of Gilchrist and trumpeters Cerri and Dunn, the bass driven "Coded Sources," and the album's supreme effort, "New Be Bop." "New Be Bop" not only fulfills the ongoing tension of the album, bringing it to a close with an extended, cacophonous, and hard hitting group improvisation, but it also provides further insight into Gilchrist's musical direction and talents. Here, Gilchrist releases the full spectrum of his improvisatory skills, moving the funk based tune through an almost big band feel, to a bebop oriented eruption, to a free-jazz plateau of discord, and then shapes it all together into a sound as uniquely Gilchrist's as anything else. This is the music according to Lafayette Gilchrist, jazz that leaves the conservatory behind, brings the music back to the streets, and expresses a unique, personal vision and set of experiences.
Pulsating with rigid energy, The Music According to Lafayette Gilchrist is much more than a debut: it's an irrefutable launch.
Track Listing: 1.Assume the Position 2. Baltimore's Belly 3. Rumble 4. The Syndicate 5. For Vince Loving 6. The Return of Jes Grew 7. Coded Sources 8. New Be Bop
Personnel: Lafayette Gilchrist: Piano & Keyboards
Vincent Loving: Electric Bass
Erve Madden: Electric Bass
Nate Reynolds: Drums
Mark Stewart: Drums
Mike Cerri: Trumpet
John Dierker: Alto & Tenor Saxophone