In the golden age of television commercials, one commercial distinguished between a product that was popular because it was associated with good taste and one that was popular because it tasted good. The Discovery Project Live in Japan has nothing to do with canned food but it demonstrates pianist Josh Nelson's excellent taste in repertoire and that his performance of that repertoire with bassist Alex Boneham and drummer Dan Schnelle sure lands deliciously in your ears.
Nelson's lovely piano touch as leader and primary soloist allows a warm feeling to linger from each note; even when playing something complicated, his tone keeps it from sounding difficult. Teamed with Boneham and Schnelle, Nelson's Discovery Project plays as a small group with all the disciplined excellence of a jazz piano trio but with the relaxed casual feeling of a small folk-rock coffeehouse too.
"Mint Blues" stretches blues feeling and tone across an eleven-minute framework that expands across far more than blues, and with a playful ending that sounds like Thelonious Monk obliquely shutting down a tunegreat programming because it immediately leads into a Monk composition. "'Reflections' is one of my favorite Thelonious Monk compositions, and it's my first time recording it," Nelson says. "I always loved the version by Joe Lovano from his Live at the Village Vanguard record from the mid-90s." Nelson digs into stride piano (one of Monk's favorites) during his unaccompanied opening and his chords in the tune seem to head in the proper general direction but detour along their way into different but no less brilliant corners.
Nelson closes this Discovery Project with the epic meditation "Introspection on 401." Drums step out alone to clear the rhythmic path, and soon all three sojourners are simultaneously creating and reflecting the scenery along their path. A warm and clear feeling rises up about halfway in, as if all the introspection opened into peace of mind...but the trio takes off again, as if pushing on to find something more than mere contentment. "I composed 'Introspection on 401' on the 401 highway in Canada many years ago, on a misty and mysterious morning; I continue to perform this song often," he says.
"Japan holds a special place in my heart.," Nelson once explained. "The people, the culture, the food, the history, all just magical to me." Discovery Project Live in Japan sends Nelson's special, magical love letter back to Japan.
Mint Blues; Reflections; Atma Krandana; Dirigibles; Kintsugi; Introspection on 401.
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