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Album Review

Joshua Crumbly: Rise

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Joshua Crumbly: Rise
Joshua Crumbly and his bass have logged a good few miles learning from a respectable number of fellow players (Victor Bailey, Terence Blanchard, Kamasi Washington and more) in his fairly young career, and it shows—his debut may not be as wildly eclectic as it could have been with such a colorful history to build on, but then it's not specifically meant to be. Rise is more about portraying emotions and inner thoughts, and the variety of players and tones here remains secondary to serving that mood: while the pieces have particular inspirations, Crumbly and his crew weave a range of emotions without needing to spell them out. At the same time, any abstraction is rooted in intuitive interplay and a groove that almost never lets up.

The mix is largely centered around a dreamy series of semi-abstract trip-hop jams, over which the players walk an interesting line between busy and crowded. The drum bed bubbles somewhere between jazzy skittering and low-key rave. Guitars and keys trade parts with varying degrees of electricity. The lead-off, "New Rock Thingy," drifts into futuristic trip-hop fusion floating in vaguely distorted synth soup, topping it off with restless drifting sax for good measure. The recipe keeps shifting in small ways throughout this subtly dense half-hour, from the soul organ of "Shout Song" or the floaty dub atmospherics of "Valor," to even looser breathers like "Remembering," which leaves everyone extra space to daydream.

The result is an amorphous stew that lives up to Crumbly's inclusive ambition ("to write songs that can be performed at rock festivals or jazz clubs or concert halls") while not getting too off-puttingly weird. Tribal African rhythm lives right alongside electro-ambient haze and cool funk, all the elements skillfully blended so that they never quite sound completely familiar in context. Rise leans on the short side but packs enough inner and outer wandering to make a satisfying trip.

Track Listing

Afria; New Rock Thingy; Noah; Remembering; Valor; For Victor; Shout Song; Rise; Light.

Personnel

Joshua Crumbly: bass; Michael Coleman: piano; Jonathan Pinson: drums; Josh Johnson: saxophone, alto; Mathis Picard: piano; Taber Gable: keyboards; Ronnie Crumbly: saxophone; Fabian Almazan: piano; Jason Burger: drums; David Cook: organ, Hammond B3; Zach Harmon: tablas.

Album information

Title: Rise | Year Released: 2020 | Record Label: Open Book Records


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