Jared Sims isn't a purist, that's for sure. On Change Of Address
, an album that marks his return to life in West Virginia after two decades spent in New England, he wields his baritone saxophone on a set of slick tunes that speaks to jazz's soul and funk extensions. Sims places his weighty horn squarely in the middle of an organ outfit, but he's not trying to take on the legacy of Ronnie Cuber
or looking to juxtapose his bari against some form of a classic Blue Note sound. The fact that this date is on Ropeadope should be an obvious hint, to those familiar with that label, that there's a strong groove and pocket element at the center of this music. Change Of Address
opens on "Offer For Wilson," where a relaxed 6/8 pulse underscores Sims' sure-handed explorations. "Seeds Of Shihab," a nod to the oft-overlooked baritone great Sahib Shihab
that's driven by a bubbly bass line and a rock solid beat, and "Ghost Guest 1979," a tune that's in step with its predecessor but open to more atmospheric elements, follow that engaging opener. All three of those performances give pause to admire Sims' fluid and firm horn work, organist Nina Ott
's supportive stance, guitarist Steve Fell
's chameleon-like abilities, and bassist Chris Lopes
and drummer Jared Seabrook
's strong rhythmic hook-up. But it's the fourth track on the album that really stands out. After three groove workouts, Sims takes a spiritual stance on "Leap Of Faith," the album's literal and figurative centerpiece. It's a seriously meditative and prayerful number that opens on some soul searching in open air before subtly trippy sonics emerge.
Two of the three remaining pieces return to the feel-good format of the earlier material. "Forest Hills," a bluesy burner, finds Sims and Fell delivering some of their strongest statements on the album; and "Lights And Colors," which closes the show, is a hip and spicy tune in three that gets the head bobbing. The penultimate piece"Tower Of Fazenda"is the one that separates itself from the pack with its cool flow and measured approach. Sims clearly likes to get down and hit hard, but numbers like that one and "Leap Of Faith" help to broaden the view of his artistry within this particular context and add some true variety to the mix.
Regardless of what state he calls home and what address he resides at, Jared Sims is likely to stand out. He's got his game together, as Change Of Address
makes perfectly clear. West Virginia University is lucky to have him at the helm of its jazz studies program now.