4

David Bennett Thomas: Headspace

Dan McClenaghan By

Sign in to view read count
Pianist David Bennett Thomas is a bit of a Renaissance guy when it comes to music. A gifted composer of classical and choral, chamber and orchestral music, he also veers on occasion into the jazz world. He brings to jazz a cerebral approach that is also engaging on a purely kick-back-and-listen level. It is with repeated listens that the music reveals its depth.

Bennett's 2012 jazz offering, Jazz Portrait (Vectordisc Records) took for its inspiration the writing of James Joyce. The inspiration for Headspace is uncertain, but the sound made by six master musicians playing Bennett's forward-looking compositions with precision and verve—and some funkiness—sound like an offshoot of pianist Chick Corea's Elektric band of the late 1980s, soaring off to the stars.

"Don't Be A Stranger" opens the set of Thomas originals. Bennett's piano prowls, inviting Joel Frahm's tenor sax into the mix. It sounds like a composition tightly constructed, with clean lines and sharp angles. Matt Davis adds some guitar sweetening, and the disc's trump card, John Swana—the guy blowing the sound toward the twenty-second century— sneaks in on the EVI, Electronic Valve Instrument. The EVI is a synthesizer for brass players. Swana played trumpet until medical problems put a crimp in his embouchure. His current EVI playing sounds nothing like a trumpet. It sounds like an instrument from outer space, from an alien culture of an advanced technology, and it, in the hands of Swana, is a perfect fit for Thomas's cultivated and forward- leaning ensemble.

On "Christina's World 1948" Bennett and the band paint a forlorn mood, with the leader shining on his intricate solo; while "Learn How to Dance" has a funky, cutting-the-rug feeling, with Frahm sounding especially tangy on tenor. The title tune takes the funk mood in a darker direction. "Moxie" is vivacious and smart; "Pale Sky" showcases guitarist Matt Davis in a pensive mode, and the closer, "Driving Home Music," rolls in the direction of the abode on a smooth cruise control, with Swana's EVI giving the tires an anti- gravitational lift that has them almost leaving the road, while Frahm's robust tenor pulls them back down, for a fine close out to an excellent recording.

Track Listing: Don't Be a Stranger; Two If By Sea; New Ev'ry Morning; Christina's World 1948; Tides; Learn How to Dance; Headspace; Never Will I leave You; Moxie; Pale Sky; Driving Home Music.

Personnel: Joel Frahm: soprano and tenor saxophones (1, 2, 4, 6, 9, 11); David Bennett Thomas: piano; John Swana: EVI (1, 2, 6, 9, 11); Matt Davis: guitar; Micah Jones: bass; Erik Johnson: drums (1, 2, 4, 5, 6, 7, 10).

Title: Headspace | Year Released: 2013 | Record Label: Vectordisc Records


Tags

comments powered by Disqus

More Articles

Read Whispers on the Wind CD/LP/Track Review Whispers on the Wind
by Jack Bowers
Published: October 23, 2017
Read Shropshire Lads: Songs to the Poems of AE Housman CD/LP/Track Review Shropshire Lads: Songs to the Poems of AE Housman
by C. Michael Bailey
Published: October 23, 2017
Read Heptagon CD/LP/Track Review Heptagon
by Glenn Astarita
Published: October 23, 2017
Read ON Tour CD/LP/Track Review ON Tour
by John Kelman
Published: October 22, 2017
Read On a Distant Shore CD/LP/Track Review On a Distant Shore
by C. Michael Bailey
Published: October 22, 2017
Read Friends & Heroes: Guitar Duets CD/LP/Track Review Friends & Heroes: Guitar Duets
by Roger Farbey
Published: October 22, 2017
Read "Suite Ellington" CD/LP/Track Review Suite Ellington
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: November 28, 2016
Read "The Quest: Live at the A.P.C." CD/LP/Track Review The Quest: Live at the A.P.C.
by Jim Trageser
Published: February 14, 2017
Read "Move Upstairs" CD/LP/Track Review Move Upstairs
by James Nadal
Published: May 27, 2017
Read "Landing" CD/LP/Track Review Landing
by Mark Sullivan
Published: April 30, 2017
Read "Forgive and Forget" CD/LP/Track Review Forgive and Forget
by Edward Blanco
Published: January 9, 2017
Read "The Danish Sessions" CD/LP/Track Review The Danish Sessions
by Chris Mosey
Published: August 2, 2017

Sponsor: ECM Records | BUY IT!  

Support our sponsor

Join the staff. Writers Wanted!

Develop a column, write album reviews, cover live shows, or conduct interviews.