16

Kris Bowers: Heroes + Misfits

Mark F. Turner By

Sign in to view read count
Expectations can lead to unexpected directions. Kris Bowers, the compelling young pianist who took first place in 2011's Thelonious Monk International Jazz Competition, wowed judges that included the likes of Ellis Marsalis, Herbie Hancock and Jason Moran. A prodigy whose encyclopedic knowledge of jazz matches an adroit freedom that can't just be taught in the classroom, Bowers could have easily debuted with a jazz-centered release.

Yet Heroes + Misfits isn't your stereotypical introduction as the aspiring musician's diverse influences and work outside of the mainstream (Kanye West, Jay-Z, Q-Tip and Black Thought) might confound purists. It churns a concoction of ideas: Airy sound effects of birds and supple piano in "Forever Spring." The electronica and rock driven motif in "Wake the Neighbors" as well as the deceptively inventive "#TheProtester " which juxtaposes a heavy back beat, classical music overtones, and signature work from the multitalented Casey Benjamin on saxophone and vocoder.

Bowers work with an array of vocalists is equally impressive. One of the more striking tracks is "Forget-er" resulting from an organic collaboration between the pianist and rising alternative pop singer Julia Easterlin which fuses avant-pop, some nifty voice arranging and lively music into a spellbinding movement. Then there's the Neo-souled "WonderLove" featuring vocalist Chris Turner and the lovely ballad "Ways of Light" with Blue Note recordings artist José James another young talent who's comfortable in multiple music genres. These recall the old school vibe of jazz and R&B artists that weren't afraid to mix real vocals and instruments.

Preconceptions of what an artist should and should not produce are thrown out the window in Heroes + Misfits . It's a multifaceted self-portrait of Bowers and like seminal works by The Robert Glasper Experiment, Tigran Hamasyan, and other young artists, proves that there are still fresh music ideas on the horizon.

Track Listing: Forever Spring; Wake the Neighbors; #TheProtester; Vices And Virtues; Forget-er (feat. Julia Easterlin); WonderLove (feat. Chris Turner); Forever Wonder; Drift; First,; Ways of Light (feat. José James).

Personnel: Kris Bowers: piano, Fender Rhodes, synthesizers; Casey Benjamin: alto saxophone (3, 4, 6, 8), vocoder (3); Adam Agati: guitars; Burniss Earl Travis II: electric bass; Jamire Williams: drums; Julia Easterlin: vocals (5); José James: vocals (10); Chris Turner: vocals (3, 6, 7).

Title: Heroes + Misfits | Year Released: 2014 | Record Label: Concord Music Group


Tags

Related Video

comments powered by Disqus

More Articles

Read Harmony of Difference CD/LP/Track Review Harmony of Difference
by Phil Barnes
Published: October 18, 2017
Read No Answer CD/LP/Track Review No Answer
by Karl Ackermann
Published: October 18, 2017
Read Agrima CD/LP/Track Review Agrima
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: October 18, 2017
Read Bright Yellow with Bass CD/LP/Track Review Bright Yellow with Bass
by Glenn Astarita
Published: October 18, 2017
Read Kurrent CD/LP/Track Review Kurrent
by C. Andrew Hovan
Published: October 17, 2017
Read Duets CD/LP/Track Review Duets
by Jakob Baekgaard
Published: October 17, 2017
Read "Sunset" CD/LP/Track Review Sunset
by Mark Corroto
Published: September 9, 2017
Read "Song of the Free Will" CD/LP/Track Review Song of the Free Will
by Dave Wayne
Published: November 16, 2016
Read "Green Man" CD/LP/Track Review Green Man
by Jim Olin
Published: October 6, 2017
Read "Green With Envy" CD/LP/Track Review Green With Envy
by James Nadal
Published: March 28, 2017
Read "All Things" CD/LP/Track Review All Things
by Roger Farbey
Published: October 26, 2016
Read "Poetry from the Future" CD/LP/Track Review Poetry from the Future
by Glenn Astarita
Published: September 5, 2017

Join the staff. Writers Wanted!

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