Lines between musical styles have become so blurred that it's not only impossible to pin down what's happening all the timeit's irrelevant. Bill Frisell, initially considered a jazz guitarist, now divides his time between Americana, world music, groove, bluegrass, jazz, and morenone of the genres meeting traditional definitions and all likely to be liberally cross-pollinated. Similarly, saxophonist Jan Garbarek, who emerged in the early 1970s as a post-Ayler free improviser, now blends Norwegian folk music with contemporary sampling and synthesizer technology in a mix that defies easy categorization.
And yet, despite their far reach, Garbarek and Frisell have to be called something when push comes to shove, and jazz is still the operative word. Pianist/songwriter/producer Charlie Peacock's career, including work with Amy Grant, Al Green, Ladysmith Black Mambazo, and Switchfoot, has always fit better into the pop/rock category. His twelve solo albums, spanning twenty years, have all been firmly situated in the Contemporary Christian Rock campdespite pushing boundaries by incorporating elements of seemingly disparate elements like alternative rock and dance music. But he's always had an unabashed interest in jazz, with influences ranging from Keith Jarrett and Herbie Hancock to Carla Bley and Andrew Hill.
With Love Press Ex-Curio, Peacock finally makes the leap. While the record is as broadly informed as anything he's ever done, this time it fitsbetter than any other single categorya jazz aesthetic. It's not the kind of record that purists will warm to, but fans of contemporary cross-genre records like Bill Frisell's Unspeakable, Me'Shell Ndegeocello's Dance of the Infidel, or Herbie Hancock's Future2Future will find plenty to like amidst Peacock's universe of contemporary sound sculpture that still leaves room for inspired solos and a relaxed sense of interplay.
Recorded in New York and Bellevue, Tennessee, this recording has few constants. But Peacock's focus prevents the revolving door of players from giving the disc a "session feel, ie. great playing but no cohesion. Indeed, Love Press Ex-Curio feels like a project with a plan, rather than simply a collection of individually strong but unconnected tracks.
Of the seventeen artists who appear on the album's nine original compositionsranging from the deep grooves of "When Diana Dances and "Super Jet Service to the chill "All or Nothing Grace two stand out. Ralph Alessi, surely one of the most underappreciated trumpeters on the scene, plays consistently inventively throughout both sessions. Guitarist Kurt Rosenwinkel delivers fluid solos on both "Longing for Louis and "Be Well Johnny Cash, showing that it's possible to adapt to any circumstance and remain true to one's vision.
That's true of Peacock as well. His two electronically-treated solo piano pieces, the choppy "Dodo's Whim and the slightly countrified, Jarrett-like "Frank the Marxist Memorial Gong Blues, serve as evidence of his broader influences. Love Press Ex-Curio debuts a new direction for Peacock, one which will hopefully continue to occupy at least some of his time and effort.
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