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18

Josh Maxey: Celebration of Soul

Mark Sullivan By

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Celebration of Soul is the tenth and final album in a series of recordings made in just three years by guitarist/composer Josh Maxey. Such a uniquely prolific output did not happen by accident. Maxey says "The key to the series has been having a goal beyond what I would have considered reasonable." The series is a creative declaration from a musician who considers himself an improviser, composer and bandleader in equal parts. It documents 50 original compositions with 20 musicians.

The title of this collection was also chosen very deliberately. Maxey describes the music as "a celebration of the jazz tradition, the sound of a band approaching new compositions with the intent of expressing not just the notes found on the page but the meaning that brings life to music...It brings the listener back, time and again, to the most primal and fundamental part of themselves: soul."

The core group here has played on the previous nine recordings in the series, building a great rapport. Brian Charette (Lou Donaldson, Houston Person, Tony Desare, Bucky Pizzarelli) is an experienced master of the organ. Acclaimed jazz guitarist Rodney Jones (Dizzy Gillespie, Lena Horne, Jaki Byard, Chico Hamilton), has been a mentor to Maxey, and is a special guest on several tracks. Saxophonist Chase Baird (Herbie Hancock, Joe Lovano, Randy Brecker, Jason Moran, Aaron Parks) makes a strong contribution on every tune. Drummer Jeremy Noller (Eddie Henderson, Dick Oatts, Bucky Green) completes the swinging, rock solid rhythm section.

But the program proper is bookended by the contrasting tunes "Brooklyn Sunrise" and "Colorado Sunset," soundscapes featuring Dave Parnell on acoustic guitar, Brett Parnell on lap steel guitar and Michael Cioffero on slide guitar. Much more than mere curiosities, these tracks would be right at home on ambient albums with Michael Brook or Daniel Lanois. Then the title tune begins, and we're quickly in classic hard bop organ quartet territory, albeit with a contemporary flavor. Guest guitarist Rodney Jones makes his first appearance on "Light and Shade" at first playing a sly, supportive rhythm guitar part, before joining in for the round of solos. So he's very much a part of the band, not just a star soloist.

Maxey makes an impression as both composer and guitarist on the whole program. "Culmination" evokes the spirit of John Coltrane, one of Maxey's stated influences. Even the obligatory blues ("Blues For Page") has a memorable head, and the arrangement changes things up by giving Jones the first solo. The album concludes with radio mixes of three of the tracks, which are really edits for length rather than remixes. I hope radio programmers make use of these. They're compelling, memorable tunes made even stronger by concision.

Track Listing: Brooklyn Sunrise; Celebration of Soul; Light & Shade; Culmination; Cycles of Sound; Blues for Page; Colorado Sunset; Cycles of Sound (Radio Mix); Light & Shade (Radio Mix); Culmination (Radio Mix).

Personnel: Josh Maxey: guitar; Brian Charett: organ; Rodney Jones: guitar; Chase Baird: saxophones; Jeremy Noller: drums; Dave Parnell: acoustic guitar; Brett Parnell: lap steel guitar; Michael Cioffero: slide guitar.

Title: Celebration of Soul | Year Released: 2015 | Record Label: Miles High Records

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Cycles of Sound

Cycles of Sound

Josh Maxey
Celebration of Soul

Completing the Cycle

Completing the Cycle

Josh Maxey
Completing The Cycle

Hold Up the Sky

Hold Up the Sky

Josh Maxey
Rhythm of the Sound Current

Hiding In Plain Sight

Hiding In Plain Sight

Josh Maxey
Rhythm of the Sound Current

The Key

The Key

Josh Maxey
Live at the Lighthouse -1979

Dear Ones

Dear Ones

Josh Maxey
Cycles of Sound

Mountain View

Mountain View

Josh Maxey
Light Cycles

Riviera Paradise

Riviera Paradise

Josh Maxey
Argument for the Blues

Part III

Part III

Josh Maxey
The Language of Sound and Spirit

Intent

Intent

Josh Maxey
Approach

Incarnate

Incarnate

Josh Maxey
Incarnate

Album Reviews
Take Five With...
Extended Analysis
Read more articles
Celebration of Soul

Celebration of Soul

Miles High Records
2016

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Celebration of Soul

Celebration of Soul

Miles High Records
2015

buy
Completing The Cycle

Completing The Cycle

Self Produced
2014

buy
Josh Maxey: The Language of Sound and Spirit

Josh Maxey: The...

Self Produced
2012

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Cycles of Sound

Cycles of Sound

Self Produced
0

buy
Light Cycles

Light Cycles

Self Produced
0

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