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Pianist Billy Childs and drummer Mike Clark make a great rhythm team. Their modern mainstream journey through new originals and familiar favorites swings with a surging intensity that’s stirred gently – not shaken. It’s your daddy’s music in a new picture frame.
”Summertime,” a personal favorite, is treated to a harmonic makeover. Using darkness and mystery, a quintet with Clark, Childs, Chris Potter, Jack Walrath and James Genus presents this gem as it’s never been shown before. Their exciting arrangement, however, lacks some of the emotion that this Gershwin tune has always harbored naturally.
From a brief listen, you get a pretty good idea of the crisp leadership this drummer provides for each of his ensembles. Trading fours on “U.T.,” he remains as conversant as his front line does on other tracks. Walrath and Potter, who pair off for “Summertime,” “Dolores” and “Three Pawns,” provide an ordinary scene. The quintet’s passion seems to fade when they’re brought together.
Three quartet tracks, however, were recorded at a different studio and make up for any lapse in direction. With those three, and the steady reliability of pianist and drummer, the uneven session nevertheless succeeds in its quest to shore up the modern mainstream.
Jazz is a continuing revelation. The best show I ever attended was the
Roots Picnic at Penn's Landing in Philadelphia, or was it Robert
Glasper's Experiment at Lincoln Center, or was it Chick Corea with
Brian Blade at Oberlin College? Most of all I enjoy playing guitar and
composing beats with my Brooklyn-based group Space Captain.