Unbridled rhythmic fury fueled by a rich harmonic underbelly is the essence of Sing To The World. Pianist Benito Gonzalez has once again assembled a vibrant cast that flourishes on ten original creations. Inventive and energetic, the ensemble gels in the moment and establishes interplay with rich and intelligent conversation. The depth and articulation comes as no surprise, with reference to his previous works as a leader and the seven years Gonzalez spent as a member of Kenny Garrett's band.
Powerhouse bassist Christian McBride aligned with alternately Jeff "Tain" Watts and Sasha Mashin to anchor and veraciously drive a rhythm section which was both the core and the springboard for Gonzalez, as well as trumpeter Nicholas Payton. Together they built a foundation of Afro-Latin sounds that echoed the ancestral spirits and authentic African dance beats. Playing modern jazz vibes over and within these torrid and variant beats created a fresh and sophisticated fusion sound of its own.
While most of the new material was written by Gonzalez, there are two notable exceptions. The great trumpeter Roy Hargrove and Gonzalez often used to play together and developed a close relationship, both musically and personally. Hargrove wrote the tune "Father" which characterized that bond. They played it often together, always refining it. But the heartfelt melody was never recorded. Until now. "412" is a Watts composition. Watts connected with Gonzalez years ago when he appreciated the young pianist's spirit and respect for the notes. He sat down at the piano one day and showed or taught Gonzalez the melody. Like "Father" it was played a lot but never recorded. The tunes bring a sentimentality which blends well and creates a well sequenced directional change of pace from the mostly fiery tone of Gonzalez's fifth record as a leader.
While Gonzalez is relentlessly engaging throughout, his assault on his keys in no way interferes with his improvisational interface with his bandmates. These cats are very much paying attention to each other and responding in kind. A grand master of the bass, McBride leads and steadies a precise yet ultimately daring rhythm section which Gonzalez gloriously rides like a big kahuna at Big Sur. The robust energy and fine tuned skill sets of the members of the ensemble collectively elevated everyone to the top of their instrumental and conversational game. There is much to be said, much to be heard, and an abundance of joy along the way.
Sounds of Freedom; Views of the Blues; Father; Offering; Visionary; Smile; Sing to the World; 412; Flatbush Avenue; Colors.
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