Jan Alexander's Of Memories to Come is a peaceful affair, a sunny set of tunes that offers optimism and solace. While much of the album sparkles with energy and verve, there is also a soft touch to Alexander's piano technique that, like Keith Jarrett or Bill Evans, allows the sweetness of the piano to emerge.
Alexander's compositions are engaging and warm, and his bandmates help to give the music a deep but subdued friendliness, not unlike the warmth of a fireplace on a winter evening. Calvin Lennig's bass lines will sometimes follow Alexander's right hand melody in unison, and he generates a tone that is reverent and deep. Drummer Michael Knippschild adds the color of falling leaves to the affair with his brush work and delicate approach. The result is a collaboration of melodic lines that grow and bloom.
Alexander's music has a rich quality, and the opening number, "Sublime," sets the mood of the album with a simple but refined tone poem. "Of Memories To Come" suggests the anticipation one might feel awaiting the arrival of a special friend. Knippschild's lines plow underneath the soaring Alexander piano lines before he takes over with a bass solo that rips without roaring.
Other numbers utilize blues chords, but chords that are more centered on happy-go-lucky feelings than sadness. One can hear this best on "Tightrope Walk," where Lenning has plenty of room to maneuver beneath Alexander's full-fingerings. Guest artist Heidi Bayer's flugelhorn adds to the carefree feeling, and her work on the break is an invigorating flurry of notes that twist and shudder like a pennant over a stadium on a windy day. Bayer makes another appearance on "On the Verge" and her phrases heighten the flowing blues. Another tune, "Wandering," is like a journey into the woods where the forest seems to run together in a kaleidoscopic tapestry.
Lenning's up-and-down-the-neck bass solo kicks things off on "Fumblin,'" a song that accelerates through changes like a taxi switching lanes during a Manhattan rush hour. Knippschild gets into the action with a funky solo that comprises some nifty off-tempo work across the trap and cymbals.
On the buoyant and upbeat Of Memories to Come, Alexander has crafted a positive toast to the future. Let's hope his vision comes true.
Sublime; Of Memories To Come; Finding Happiness (Interlude); Hastily Hesitant; Fumblin’; On The Verge; Wandering; Ease My Mind; Reprise (Interlude); Tightrope Walk; Mantra.
Jan Alexander: Piano, Synthesizer; Calvin Lennig: double bass; Michael Knippschild: drums; Heidi Bayer: Flugelhorn.