227

Lafayette Gilchrist: Soul Progressin'

Chris May By

Sign in to view read count
Lafayette Gilchrist: Soul Progressin'
Baltimore pianist Lafayette Gilchrist has a style which satisfyingly combines two very different aesthetics: the funky and the sophisticated. He's been compared to keyboardists and composers Andrew Hill and Sun Ra, but his approach is more closely rooted in bassist Charles Mingus' work as a leader. Where Mingus' rhythmic and emotional foundation for composition and arrangement borrowed from gospel and the blues, Gilchrist's draws from those music's more recent offspring: hip hop, Washington go-go and funk. Like Mingus, Gilchrist layers the rhythmic bed with harmonically adventurous horns, and his own all-over-the-keyboard piano. His horn section, three saxophones and two trumpets, retains a raucous, downhome flavor while simultaneously, and magically, evoking Igor Stravinsky and contemporary classical composer Heiner Goebbels' dalliances with dissonance and angularity. It's a fierce and compelling synthesis.

Soul Progressin' is Gilchrist's third album with his eight-piece band the New Volcanoes, following The Music According to Lafayette Gilchrist (Hyena, 2004) and Towards The Shining Path (Hyena, 2005). His most recent release was Three (Hyena, 2007), made with bassist Anthony "Blue" Perkins and drummer Nathan Reynolds, both members of the New Volcanoes.

Perkins and Nathan—whose funk and soul curriculum vitae includes a spell in singer Wilson Pickett's band—lay down reiterative grooves from which Nathan only rarely deviates, while Perkins takes a looser approach in which the bootalicious funk of classic-era Funkadelic bassist Bootsy Collins is writ large. Perkins' extended solo on the moody "Come Get Some" conjures up Collins at his wildest, framed by a broiling, harmonically dissonant horn arrangement which at times sounds like a newly discovered fortissimo passage from Stravinsky's Rite Of Spring (circa 1913).

This tension between the edgy and the good-time runs through most of Soul Progessin', hitting the head and the feet with equal force. Only the title track and "Uncrowned" deviate, and they're on a short rein. "Soul Progressin'" is unadorned funk, in which the horn section comes closest to a straightforward Stax or James Brown sound. The track is given character by Gilchrist's pumping, theme-centric solo and a growling, post-Cootie Williams trumpet workout from either Mike Cerri or Freddy Dunn. "Uncrowned" is for unaccompanied piano, and is dedicated to the late Andrew Hill.

The music's edginess is tinged with a feeling of anger and impatience, at its most powerful on the 9:35 "Those Frowning Clowns." The title, Gilchrist's liner notes explain, refer to "years of official lies and needless war (by) the current leadership." Mingus would almost certainly be enthusiastic about Lafayette Gilchrist, who's moving the music forward without losing sight of either its past or its potential for bringing about social change.

Track Listing

Soul Progressin'; Between Us; Come Get Some; Uncrowned; Those Frowning Clowns; Detective's Tip; Many Exits No Doors.

Personnel

Lafayette Gilchrist: piano; John Dierker: tenor saxophone, bass clarinet; Gregory L Thompkins: tenor saxophone; Gabriel Ware: alto saxophone; Mike Cerri: Trumpet; Freddy Dunn: trumpet; Anthony "Blue" Jenkins: bass; Nathan Reynolds: drums.

Album information

Title: Soul Progressin' | Year Released: 2008 | Record Label: Hyena Records

Post a comment about this album

Tags

Shop Amazon

More

Secret Suite
Nick Lombardelli
The One And The Other
Lara Solnicki
Flatbosc & Cautery
Frank Gratkowski, Achim Kaufmann, Wilbert de...
Shuffling Ivories
Roberto Magris
Kinetic
Steven Feifke Big Band
Sogni D’oro
Berlin Mallet Group
Light as a Word
Remy Le Boeuf
Love is the Key
Sue Maskaleris

Popular

All About Jazz needs your support

Donate
All About Jazz & Jazz Near You were built to promote jazz music: both recorded albums and live events. We rely primarily on venues, festivals and musicians to promote their events through our platform. With club closures, limited reopenings and an uncertain future, we've pivoted our platform to collect, promote and broadcast livestream concerts to support our jazz musician friends. This is a significant but neccesary step that will help musicians and venues now, and in the future. You can help offset the cost of this essential undertaking by making a donation today. In return, we'll deliver an ad-free experience (which includes hiding the sticky footer ad). Thank you!

Get more of a good thing

Our weekly newsletter highlights our top stories and includes your local jazz events calendar.