Unconditional is the debut recording as leader by Atley King who is described in a press release as "Canada's leading young jazz vibraphonist." While that portrayal may or may not be truenot to mention gratuitousKing is very good, as are the members of his admirable quintet.
Besides playing splendidly, King wrote the first eight of the album's nine selections, closing with John Coltrane's soulful "Naima." His compositions are fine, albeit more or less genericthat is to say, well-written but several steps removed from special. While there are some pleasant harmonic touches, most notably on "Wondering," "To Each Their Own" and the title song, most numbers are respectable but no more than that.
The groove is laid-back to moderate, save for the playful "Doing Good," one of the session's high points, wherein the ensemble proves there is no sweat when the heat is on. Bassist David Caballero introduces "Doing Good," which shifts into high gear behind engaging solos by King, pianist Max Huberdeau and Brad Turnerwho plays flugelhorn on every numberand solid rhythmic support from Caballero and drummer Arvind Ramdas.
More of that would have been welcomeas would a standard or twobut what there is, aside from "Naima" and the tunes already named, are four more of King's genteel compositions, "Now and Then," "For Our Friends," "Attachment" and "Context." To place the session in context, King and his colleagues are commendable throughout, earning high marks for their ability and commitment, grades that would have been even higher were the material more seductive and challenging. Even so, an impressive debut by a rising young star on the Canadian jazz scene.
Now and Then; To Each Their Own; Doing Good; For Our Friends; Attachment; Unconditional;
Wondering; Context; Naima.
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