The multitalented and multi-textual keyboardist Richard Bone continues his ambient reflections on mid-1960s jazz with Coxa, his tenth disc as a leader and a sequel of sorts to 1998's bossa-oriented Electropica. Coxa, an anatomical term meaning hip bone (clever, huh?), is again inspired by producer Creed Taylor's galvanizing Verve productions of the mid-1960s. Here, though, Bone spices his jazz impressions with the work of vibesmen Cal Tjader and Dave Pike as well as Rudy Van Gelder, who single-handedly engineered the bulk of sixties jazz that appeared on Verve, Blue Note, Prestige and Impulse.
Evocative is probably the best way to describe what Bone, a one-man orchestra, accomplishes here. While his tunes are all engagingly melodic, he concentrates more on setting or conveying a mood than exploring lines or melodies. Therefore, a jazz listener with a given set of expectations might feel as lost at sea in Bone's brew as someone expecting a new-age cocktail. But Bone, as usual, captures and holds attention by delivering imaginatively conceived rhythms and subtly shifting rhythmic patterns.
Whether Bone knows it or not, Coxa most clearly recalls the interesting and unfortunately forgotten music Kenyon Hopkins made in the 50s and 60s under Creed Taylor's auspices (especially 1963's Yellow Canary and 1965's Mister Buddwing, both on Verve and out of print). Hopkins was a music supervisor on many film and TV projects through the 1970s. But he always brought a colorful jazz vocabulary to his music and engaged top talents in the jazz field to bring his memorable sketches to life.
Bone comes close to achieving the same thing here (albeit with less overt improvisation) on the intriguingly titled "Dragneta, My Love" (the disc's best track), "Outside The Incrimination Field" (a smoldering soundtrack number suggesting something from Alphaville ) and the swinging "Amorita Dive" (working the organ groove of Jimmy Smith). The disc's opening and closing numbers ("Garden," "47 Youth Street") are both ballads out of the Bob James bag. And while I'm not sure what the Pike references are here, the spirit of Cal Tjader rocks through Bone's "Playa Six" as if the vibraphonist himself was dancing through a Brazilian rain forest (a mood which also prevails on the disc's unnamed ninth track).
Something tells me that Bone hasn't finished musing upon this fine period of jazz (finally and only recently acknowledged as worthwhile). "Dragneta, My Love" suggests an exploration of jazz-funk. But who knows. Bone could go anywhere next.
Songs:Garden; Playa Siz; Outside the Incrimination Field; Amorita Dive; Dido; What If (If What?)' Dragneta, My Love; 47 Youth Street.