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Behn Gillece: Stick Together

Behn Gillece: Stick Together
While Behn Gillece's Stick Together, the vibraphonist's seventh disc for the Posi-Tone imprint, includes an abundance of highlights and exciting moments, there is something more substantive here than a band of excellent players constantly going full bore. The disc functions within the parameters of tried-and-true modern jazz practices, yet the difference between it and releases that bear a stylistic resemblance lies in a distinctive group sound that stays front and center amid compelling individual contributions.

Regardless of the type of material and feel, the band consistently finds a sweet spot where everything sounds clean, crisp and, most importantly, devoid of clutter or any hint of strain. The group lays down more than one kind of swing ("Almost There," "Four Of A Kind," "Cyclic Episode") and handles Latin ("Shimmering Sands") and funk ("Get On It!") grooves as well as odd time signatures ("Cascades Merging," "The Huddle," "Lazy September") with assurance and admirable ease.

Gillece, pianist Art Hirahara, bassist Boris Kozlov and drummer/percussionist Rudy Royston animate the music without gumming up the works or getting in each other's way. Instead of adhering to strict roles or dutifully staying in their lanes, they simultaneously listen, respond and assert themselves as individuals. Throughout brisk invigorating solos, primarily by Gillece and Hirahara, the group's vibe stays intact, and no single voice dominates.

Recognizing individual contributions within the band's sound is one of the record's genuine pleasures. Kozlov's bass generates a powerful walking momentum and spiky irregular patterns in support of Gillece and Hirahara on the briskly swinging "Four Of A Kind." During the same track, the comparatively laid-back "Lazy September" and elsewhere, Hirahara's brisk assertive chording leans into Gillece's solo lines in ways that are challenging and supportive.

The funk of "Get On It!" does not feel rigid or constrained, partly because Royston's accents do not always land in expected places. In short, you feel the funk but do not get hit over the head with it. Throughout the record, Royston mixes solid time and mindfulness of Kozlov with an element of surprise; that is, boldly jamming multi-stroke fills —often on more than one drum—into tight spaces without upsetting the music's balance or drawing too much attention.

The well-balanced cooperative character of Gillece's quartet is an increasingly rare commodity in a contemporary jazz/improvised music environment that often places a premium on relentless high energy, volume and density. In the end, despite Stick Together's recognizable roots, it does not feel retro, but rather, like great jazz of all stripes, thrives in the present day on its own terms. Highly recommended.

Track Listing

Almost There; Four Of A Kind; Changing My Day; Get On It!; Cyclic Episode; Shimmering Sands; Cascades Merging; In The Huddle; Dreamscape; Barreling Through; Lazy September.

Personnel

Behn Gillece
vibraphone
Boris Kozlov
bass, acoustic

Album information

Title: Stick Together | Year Released: 2024 | Record Label: Posi-Tone Records


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