112

Jeff Ray: The Walkup

Eric J. Iannelli By

Sign in to view read count
Jeff Ray: The Walkup After four years spent cutting his teeth in clarinetist Darryl Harper's jazz project The Onus, the Ohio native Jeff Ray has released his debut solo recording, a largely self-penned collection of extended electric jams and a collage of musical genres.

"Solo recording," however, is a descriptive term that offers quite a lot of slack. The overall impression of The Walkup – named for the urban stretch between Ray's flat and the Harlem jazz hotspot St. Nick's Pub where he got his start – is that Ray is a strong player but benefits greatly from his hand-picked band, the talented trio of drummer Victor Wise, keyboardist Aaron Swinn and bassist Darryl Hall. This is of course the guitarist's first album proper, not to mention his first as leader, so it isn't to be expected that he would step into his dual role in the manner of a thirty-year veteran.

But The Walkup is by any reckoning a group effort, full of mutualistic release and reining in, with each player giving the other just enough license. And chances are that Ray wouldn't be able to pull off the nimble time and chord shifts (as on "Hot Music") alone as well as he does here with Wise et al beside him. Without them it's also debatable whether or not Ray would find the listener so willing to follow his flights of fancy through funk, blues, smooth jazz, rock and R&B – and that's just on one track.

With that in mind, purists – if this strange breed of aficionados even exists anymore – will probably be put off by The Walkup because of its occasional tendencies toward stadium jam, a style of playing more often associated with bands like Phish and String Cheese Incident. The title track is a good example of this, as is the latter half of "Hoodwink," and those who prefer their jazz more intimate won't find it hard to envisage (in a pejorative sense) Ray, eyes closed, hair ruffled by the evening breeze, cranking out orgiastic riffs while Swinn lays down some thick Hammond grooves to please the crowd.

Still, a solid debut is a solid debut, and The Walkup gives plenty of reasons to expect good things from Ray in the future: the bluesy cool of "D.R.A." to cite one, and the psychedelic reggae-like fusion of "Wise Ton J" to cite another. This full-length, if it can be regarded as some sort of declaration of musical intent, would seem to indicate that Ray is not content to remain firmly in the jazz idiom, a restlessness that could make his future career either delightful or disastrous. At any rate, he and his musical partnerships ought to keep things interesting.


Track Listing: 1. Streams (7:32) 2. D.R.A. (6:54) 3. Hot Music (9:35) 4. Everybody Loves the Sunshine (6:20) 5. The Walkup (5:27) 6. Wise Ton J (10:14) 7. Cinnamon Lenses (7:14) 8. Hoodwink (7:19)

Personnel: Darryl Hall - electric bass Jeff Ray - electric guitar Aaron Swinn - Hammond B3, Rhodes Victor Wise - drums

Year Released: 2003 | Record Label: HiPNOTIC Records | Style: Funk/Groove


Shop

CD/LP/Track Review
Read more articles
Allman Brothers Band Allman Brothers Band
band/orchestra
Son House Son House
guitar, slide
Elmore James Elmore James
guitar, slide
Robert Nighthawk Robert Nighthawk
guitar, slide
Elvin Bishop Elvin Bishop
guitar, electric
Blind Willie McTell Blind Willie McTell
guitar, 12-string
Johnny Shines Johnny Shines
guitar
Furry Lewis Furry Lewis
guitar, acoustic

More Articles

Read June CD/LP/Track Review June
by Karl Ackermann
Published: February 19, 2017
Read The Final Concert CD/LP/Track Review The Final Concert
by John Sharpe
Published: February 19, 2017
Read Desire & Freedom CD/LP/Track Review Desire & Freedom
by Glenn Astarita
Published: February 19, 2017
Read On Hollywood Boulevard CD/LP/Track Review On Hollywood Boulevard
by Budd Kopman
Published: February 19, 2017
Read The Motorman's Son CD/LP/Track Review The Motorman's Son
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: February 18, 2017
Read "Sarabande" CD/LP/Track Review Sarabande
by Budd Kopman
Published: March 3, 2016
Read "Jassemblage" CD/LP/Track Review Jassemblage
by Chuck Koton
Published: June 18, 2016
Read "Books On Tape, Vol. 2 - Standard Edition" CD/LP/Track Review Books On Tape, Vol. 2 - Standard Edition
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: October 17, 2016
Read "Agartha" CD/LP/Track Review Agartha
by Roger Farbey
Published: August 14, 2016
Read "I'll Be Seeing You" CD/LP/Track Review I'll Be Seeing You
by Chris Mosey
Published: October 24, 2016
Read "Live At The Open Gate" CD/LP/Track Review Live At The Open Gate
by John Sharpe
Published: August 29, 2016

Post a comment

comments powered by Disqus

Sponsor: ECM Records | BUY NOW  

Support our sponsor

Support All About Jazz's Future

We need your help and we have a deal. Contribute $20 and we'll hide the six Google ads that appear on every page for a full year!

Buy it!