Home » Jazz Articles » Album Review » Josh Lawrence: Triptych

4

Josh Lawrence: Triptych

By

Sign in to view read count
Josh Lawrence: Triptych
Triptych succeeds on the connection between Josh Lawrence's writing and a coterie of players with whom he has been associated for several years. A brilliant, enterprising band comprised of the leader's trumpet, pianist Zaccai Curtis, his brother, bassist Luques Curtis, alto saxophonist Caleb Curtis (no relation), and drummer Anwar Marshall readily embrace the contours of Lawence's compositions and inhabit the roles required by the music, while simultaneously bringing their own idiosyncrasies to the table. In an age when artists often err on the side of caution in an attempt to make a perfect record, or adopt an every man for himself approach to performance, small groups usually don't sound this spirited, tight and simpatico.

The record is comprised of a triumvirate of three movement suites, plus a cover of the Earth, Wind & Fire hit, "That's The Way Of The World." Lawrence's original material draws inspiration from a variety of sources. "Lost Works" is a eulogy for the first three paintings of Vasily Kandinsky's "Composition" series. They were deemed "degenerate art" by the German Nazi Party and destroyed during World War Two. Dedicated to Lawrence's wife, artist Ola Baldych, "Happiest Together" is a portrait of their life together. "Earth Wind Fire" draws from some of the trumpeter's musical influences: Ahmad Jamal, Miles Davis's early electric music, and the Terence Blanchard/Donald Harrison 1980s quintet.

Apart from inspirations and influences, one way of looking at the record is to measure the tracks that contain Lawrence's trumpet and the rhythm section against those which include Curtis's alto. "We're Happiest Together," "Sugar Hill Stroll," "Wind," and "Sunset In Santa Barbara" feature the genial, uncluttered, relatively relaxed facets of Lawrence's writing and playing. "We're Happiest Together" in particular is a joyous, optimistic, middling tempo waltz that nicely balances his composition and the band's performance. Zaccai Curtis's frisky accompaniment enhances Lawrence's charming take on the melody. Offering just the right degree of weight and thrust, Lawrence's solo continuously unfolds without sounding like he's in a hurry to go anywhere. From start to finish it's a track that might please those who don't normally care for jazz.

One of three selections with roots in hard bop, the execution of the head of the busy, insistent "Fire" lies somewhere between pinpoint precision and an amorphous mass. Zaccai Curtis's thunderous piano stands out in a field crammed with urgent information. Luques Curtis's bass ably holds the band together, and the soloists— Lawrence, Caleb Curtis and Zaccai Curtis—stay on point despite a punishing tempo. "Composition #2" overlaps written and improvised segments, sustaining a somber mood while subtly altering textures. Caleb Curtis's improvisation feels like a story in itself. Deliberate, thoughtful tones eventually become trashier, longer and freer, as if he's attempting to break out of something too confining.

Lawrence's well-crafted, emotionally resonant compositions, an ensemble of individuals who support one another, and a raft of soloists capable of speaking for themselves, conspire to make Triptych worthwhile listening.

Track Listing

We're Happiest Together; Composition #1; Composition #2; Composition #3; Sugar Hill Stroll; Earth; Wind; Fire; Sunset In Santa Barbara; That's The Way Of The World.

Personnel

Josh Lawrence: trumpet; Caleb Curtis: alto sax (2, 3, 4, 6 & 8); Zaccai Curtis: piano; Luques Curtis: bass; Anwar Marshall: drums; Brian Charette: organ (10)

Album information

Title: Triptych | Year Released: 2019 | Record Label: Posi-Tone Records

Comments


For the Love of Jazz
Get the Jazz Near You newsletter All About Jazz has been a pillar of jazz since 1995, championing it as an art form and, more importantly, supporting the musicians who create it. Our enduring commitment has made "AAJ" one of the most culturally important websites of its kind, read by hundreds of thousands of fans, musicians and industry figures every month.

You Can Help
To expand our coverage even further and develop new means to foster jazz discovery and connectivity we need your help. You can become a sustaining member for a modest $20 and in return, we'll immediately hide those pesky ads plus provide access to future articles for a full year. This winning combination will vastly improve your AAJ experience and allow us to vigorously build on the pioneering work we first started in 1995. So enjoy an ad-free AAJ experience and help us remain a positive beacon for jazz by making a donation today.

Tags

More

Tidal Currents: East Meets West
Winnipeg Jazz Orchestra
This Celestial Engine
This Celestial Engine
Flax
Martin Arnold
Whisper Not
Paul Kendall

Popular

Get more of a good thing!

Our weekly newsletter highlights our top stories, our special offers, and upcoming jazz events near you.