New York City is the Mecca for musicians, jazz and otherwise. Tributes to the metropolis meet with varying degrees of success. Guitarist/vocalist Lou Reed captured the mood and tone of the big city with his finest recorded outing, New York
(Sire Records, 1989). Saxophonist Bob Belden
, via his quintet called "Animation," gave the town a menacing hue on his Transparent Heart
(101 Distribution, 2012). But the best of the tributes may be vibraphonist Tyler Blanton
Blanton is a transplant, having made the move to New York from California seven years ago. He has absorbed the soul of the city, and he bares that soul with a versatile quartetbassist Matt Clohesy
, drummer Nat Wood
and the ever busy sideman, saxophonist Donny McCaslin
. With this spare instrumentation the group lays down a fusion of on-edge grooves, techno textures and hard rock ferocity.
The rhythms are animated and relentless, as tight as a late 1960's Motown sound, and they are often intense, a soundtrack for a city that never, ever stops moving, opening with a the CD's trio intro (sans saxophone), "Never Sleeps." McCaslin adds the serpentine lines on "Freaky Dream." The title tune opens with what sound like vibraphone echoings issuing from deep canyons created by close-packed, monolithic buildings, and the near fourteen minute "Tunnels" is a masterful, high-energy subterranean safari, a highlight on this captivating suite, Gotham
, a highly original, very modern, chip-on-the-shoulder/you-lookin'-at-me sound.
Tyler Blanton: vibraphone, malletkat; Matt Clohesy: tenor saxophone; Nate Wood: drums.