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Michael Carvin Experience: Flash Forward

Dan Bilawsky By

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In 2006, oft-unsung drummer Michael Carvin broke a decade-long silence as a leader on record, releasing one of the strongest dates of his career through Marsalis Music's Honor Series. Fast-forward eight years and you have Flash Forward, another quartet-based album that stands as a testament to Carvin's skills as drummer, bandleader, and musical catalyst.

Flash Forward is a fresh musical start for Carvin. It's his first release for the Motema Music imprint and the first album to feature a feisty quartet dubbed The Michael Carvin Experience. And while that appellation puts Carvin on a pedestal, rightly marking him as the man who brings it all together, it doesn't place him above or beyond his colleagues in a musical sense. He's quick to point out that the divide between leader and side man doesn't exist here; the music confirms that fact.

Carvin and his younger collaborators—sure-footed tenor saxophonist Keith Loftis, classy pianist Yayoi Ikawa, and solid-as-a-rock bassist Jansen Cinco—rework six classics and two lesser-known number from jazz masters—Bobby Hutcherson's "Same Shame" and Horace Silver's "Sayonara Blues." The standards are all tunes that have been done to death, but this band makes some of them sparkle and shine under new light. An unbelievably propulsive take on Thelonious Monk's "In Walked Bud," a rhythmically vital, completely unsentimental trip through "You Stepped Out Of A Dream," and a spaced-out melodic reorientation of "Autumn Leaves" all bear that out. The Silver and Hutcherson tunes highlight vastly different facets of this foursome. "Sayonara Blues," a straight-down-the-middle straight eighth number, gives pause to admire the interplay between all parties, and "Same Shame" points to a slowly drifting, painterly approach.

Performances like "A Night In Tunisia" and "In Walked Bud" serve as strong reminders that Carvin can bop, kick, punch, and push as well as anybody, but his abilities go well beyond that. He serves the music, not himself. Note the completely selfless Carvin during the wonderfully casual "You Go To My Head." The light "chick" of the hi-hat and the occasional brush remark are all that's required, so that's all that he gives. It's that marriage of technique and musical discernment that help to mark Carvin as a true master of this art.

Track Listing: So What; Sayonara Blues; In Walked Bud; Same Shame; Night In Tunisia; You Go To My Head; You Stepped Out Of A Dream; Autumn Leaves.

Personnel: Michael Carvin: drums; Jansen Cinco: bass; Yayoi Ikawa: piano; Keith Loftis: saxophone.

Title: Flash Forward | Year Released: 2014 | Record Label: Motema Music


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