Drummer Ferenc Nemeth's work has always been about building bridges and making connections with a diverse assortment of artists. He's connected styles and cultures through his extensive work with West African guitar phenom Lionel Loueke, supported Israeli bassist Omer Avital, Cuban pianist Elio Villafranca, and other top-shelf artists on record at different times, and built up an impressive body of work under his own name, crossing paths with saxophonist Joshua Redman, bassist John Patitucci, pianist Aaron Parks, and saxophonist Mark Turner in the process. On Bridges Of Souls, he further widens his circle of collaborators, teaming up with Attila Laszlo, an esteemed veteran guitarist from Hungary, and a pair of famed Yellowjacketsbassist Jimmy Haslip and keyboardist Russell Ferrante.
The music created by this foursome isn't fusion in its most common form, but it's a fusion of sorts. When you hear Haslip's bubbly electric bass soloing over Ferrante's celestial keyboard, you know from whence they've come and where they like to go, but nobody would mistake this for a Yellowjackets record; the surfaces aren't as slick here, and there are earthier elements at play in this music. That's what the co-leaders bring to the project. Laszlo can deliver it in down-and-dirty fashion, but he's also poetic in the way he paints with his guitar. Nemeth, likewise, knows when to barrel ahead and when to play it cool.
Much of the music rides high on the groove(s) and/or shimmers through the speakers, but not everything falls neatly under those generalized headings. Two vocal numbersthe reggae-soul-gospel-jazz of "Alone," complete with guest Charlie Horvath's winning sandpaper-y vocals, and "Little Heart," something of a jazz-inflected art song written and performed by guest singer Lara Bellostand out from the rest. But in the end, it's not the steady flow of a beat, the beauty of a voice, or the power of a solo that defines this album. It's the coming together of different and distinct personalities to work toward a common end that sums up Bridges Of Souls.
Bridges Of Souls; Downhill; The Untouchable Number; It's Already That; Sounds Of My Heart; Dance; Alone; Magic City; Little Heart; Creep; Missing You.
Ferenc Nemeth: drums; Attila Laszlo: guitar; Russell Ferrante: piano, keyboard; Jimmy Haslip: bass.
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