Matt Slocum's multicolored trapsat times forceful or delicate, creatively painting varied tempos with the essence of swingdefine the drummer's debut, Portraits. Hailing from St. Paul, Minnesota, Slocum's introduction carries forward the torch of patriarchs Max Roach and Elvin Jones amongst others, but he also carves out his own rhythmic patterns with young contemporaries such as Eric Harland and Johnathan Blake.
Slocum is joined by equally distinguished peers: award-winning pianist Gerald Clayton, whose own debut, Two-Shade (ArtistShare, 2009), was well received; and resolute bassist Massimo Biolcati, a longtime associate of guitarist Lionel Loueke. Portraits is mostly a trio outing, with special guest saxophonists Walter Smith III, Jaleel Shaw and Dayna Stephens, all noteworthy young voices, appearing on a couple of tracks.
Slocum presses forward with scintillating new material that has emotion and drive, unveiling nuanced charts like the stylish "Cambria," whose melody is suffused with a swinging glow. The trio's communication is palpableeach player's effervescence supporting and lifting each other and the music to higher grounds. But fertile soil is also tilled to great effect on the cover of Duke Ellington's "Daydream," where Smith plays with a deep tone, like an old soul from times past, and where Slocum's cymbal and mallet touches are simply haunting.
"Seven Stars" shifts with ease between heated modality and cool, marked by ubiquitous drums, torrential horns salvos and complexity touching sweet melodism to create one of the recording's best pieces. The remainder of the set follows form, including "Illusions and Delusions," featuring Stephens' tenor providing warmth, and "Avenida del Paraiso," with Biolcati's quaking bass and Slocum's spidery traps creating an intricate web for Clayton to navigate.
Present day jazz is clearly not stagnate in the very good hands (and sticks) of Matt Slocuma young drummer who plays with empathy and verve.
Homage; Cambria; Daydream; Shadows; For Alin; Seven Stars; Portraits;
Illusions and Delusions; Avenida del Paraiso.
Gerald Clayton: piano; Massimo Biolcati: bass; Matt Slocum: drums; Walter Smith III: tenor saxophone; Jaleel Shaw: alto saxophone; Dayna Stephens: tenor saxophone.
All About Jazz has been a pillar of jazz since 1995, championing it as an art form and, more importantly, supporting the musicians who create it. Our enduring commitment has made "AAJ" one of the most culturally important websites of its kind, read by hundreds of thousands of fans, musicians and industry figures every month.
WE NEED YOUR HELP
To expand our coverage even further and develop new means to foster jazz discovery and connectivity we need your help. You can become a sustaining member for a modest $20 and in return, we'll immediately hide those pesky ads plus provide access to future articles for a full year. This winning combination will vastly improve your AAJ experience and allow us to vigorously build on the pioneering work we first started in 1995. So enjoy an ad-free AAJ experience and help us remain a positive beacon for jazz by making a donation today.