There are decades when nothing happens, said Lenin, and weeks when decades happen. There have been far too many weeks in the three years since 2019 when decades went by. Looking for stability in the midst of madness may be a fool's errand, but it is for just such instances that recordings like The Meeting
are made. Ray Noble
's "Cherokee" is a warhorse, right? Could anyone find novelty there without an endless display of chops and musical gimmicks? Jimmy Branly
's band does, from its evasive intro to a sudden stop, a favorite device of his, but still manages to maintain a sense of order. Same with the haunting solo on "Smoke Gets in Your Eyes." Even in its original key of Eb, it somehow sounds different, but not unexpected. Will Brahm
's original, "Presume," brings in Sezin-Ahmet Turkmenoglu
's facile bass, and pulses without rattling windows. Wayne Shorter
's gorgeous "Infant Eyes" is as harmonically challenging a tune as one may find, but is also oddly stable, even centered. And the original "One Day" is complex, but emollient. Really, this is a recording about harmony and balance, with a kick from Branly's highly polished drums to keep things interesting.
Jimmy Branly is a native Cuban, based in Los Angeles, and obviously no stranger to the Afro-Cuban idiom. While many listeners will be intrigued by the shifting rhythms and may be inclined to count their way through the tunes, this can, at a minimum, be distracting, which it sometimes is here. Perhaps it is best to simply enjoy the pretty playing and figure out the intricacies later. However varied the rhythms, the imaginative and spacious harmonies make this album one of those recordings that helps put an all-too-chaotic world in a better light.
A satisfying recording through and through.
Bis Bis; If I Should Lose You; Smoke Gets In Your Eyes; Presume; Infant Eyes; The Meeting; One
Day; Blues; Cherokee.