7

Johnny Griffith: Dance With The Lady

Dan Bilawsky By

Sign in to view read count
Johnny Griffith: Dance With The Lady
Can jazz stay the inventive course while remaining true to its swinging precedents and historical framework(s)? This record makes the argument that it can.

Toronto-based saxophonist Johnny Griffith has put together a program of original music that's firmly grounded in tradition, yet his approaches aren't rigidly dogmatic in nature; in other words, this record speaks to the past, but it's not another present-day date that's simply dressed in yesteryear's fashion(s). Slamming grooves and swing rhythms share living space ("The Kuleshascope"), nuanced exploration has its place ("Cinders"), strong personal statements can be heard throughout, and the band artfully creates and surfs the dynamic waves within this music.

On paper, this band looks like a quartet of like-minded Canadians upping the attention factor by adding a high profile outsider—American trumpeter Jeremy Pelt. But in truth, Griffith and his countrymen need no help on the music end, and Pelt is a team player. He seems to be fully invested in this music, so any thoughts or worries of a big-name-phoning-it scenario are unfounded. Pelt and Griffith are well matched, though Pelt often takes a more circuitous route through his solos while Griffith prefers a more direct course of engagement, and they deliver top notch performances, whether working alone, harmonizing, moving through unison lines, or shaping phrases around one another.

The rest of the band—pianist Adrean Farrugia, bassist Jon Maharaj, and drummer Ethan Ardelli—knows how to light a fire, drive a tune, or dial it back, depending on what the music calls for. Farrugia proves to be a powerful force who can speak comfortably in bluesy turns or post-bop phrases, Maharaj is a strong support player and a thoughtful soloist, and Ardelli has great range, hammering down at one moment and delivering delicate cymbal filigree the next.

On Dance With The Lady, Johnny Griffith manages to do what few artists are capable of doing successfully: he blends the styles of the past and present while projecting the attitude of today.

Track Listing

The Zissou Predicament; Princess Aura Goes To Phrygia; Syrah; The Kuleshascope; Bass Interlude; The Mile Walk; Dance With The Lady; Cinders; That Night.. (Under The Bench) So Long Ago.

Personnel

Johnny Griffith: alto saxophone, tenor saxophone; Jeremy Pelt: trumpet; Adrean Farrugia: piano; Jon Maharaj: bass; Ethan Ardelli: drums.

Album information

Title: Dance With The Lady | Year Released: 2014 | Record Label: Self Produced

Post a comment about this album

Tags

Shop Amazon

More

Zero Grasses: Ritual for The Losses
Jen Shyu and Jade Tongue
Aufbruch
J. Peter Schwalm & Markus Reuter
Purvs
Liudas Mockūnas / Arvydas Kazlauskas
Chapter One
Marieke Koopman

Popular

All About Jazz needs your support

Donate
All About Jazz & Jazz Near You were built to promote jazz music: both recorded albums and live events. We rely primarily on venues, festivals and musicians to promote their events through our platform. With club closures, limited reopenings and an uncertain future, we've pivoted our platform to collect, promote and broadcast livestream concerts to support our jazz musician friends. This is a significant but neccesary step that will help musicians and venues now, and in the future. You can help offset the cost of this essential undertaking by making a donation today. In return, we'll deliver an ad-free experience (which includes hiding the sticky footer ad). Thank you!

Get more of a good thing

Our weekly newsletter highlights our top stories and includes your local jazz events calendar.