Drummer Jonathan Barber's Legacy Holder is a musical missive acknowledging the history that flows before and beyond his time, the ethos of the present, and a need to bind these streams into a single/singular statement or groundwork for himself and those who will follow. It is an album built on intellect, understanding, intuition and, perhaps most importantly, respectfor culture, curiosity, a capacity to love and do what's right, and the need to change.
Leading Vision Aheadan aptly named outfit adept at producing art with equal attention to structural integrity, dynamic arcs, groove and heart Barber is in the zone and on the pulse of the moment from the very start. With guest vocalist Mar Vilaseca at the fore, "The Call" delivers the album's message with sleek selling points. That opener essentially segues into "Find My Way," where Godwin Louis' measured alto saxophone rides an ascending current built on hope and the desire for growth. As Louis reaches the summit, guitarist Andrew Renfroe is there to share the load and drive the music forward. He remains a key presence as the song transitions, helping to create a cycling current in five that's powered by Barber's beat.
A fine balance between rumination and intensity characterizes the title track, which gives pause to admire Renfroe's laser-focused solo work and a conversational chemistry linking Louis and pianist Taber Gable. Then Barber and company explore poetry in jouncing motion on bassist Matt Dwonszyk's "Haikus," a swinging and swerving energy in "Major," contemplation drawn into a compelling and evolving flow during "Seconds & Seasons," and some riveting, rocking suggestions on the drummer's self-referential "Son of Hartford." It all comes to an end too soon with "29," a subtly spiking composition dialed in on the leader's age and offering some room to roam. Ultimately, that number, and the music embedded within it, makes an important point about youth and purpose. Wise beyond his years, Jonathan Barber carries and commits to the very notion of a legacy holder in his every gesture.
The Call; Find My Way; Legacy Holder; Haikus; Major; Seconds & Seasons; Son of Hartford; 29.