What do you want from Wayne Krantz anyway?
It's a particularly relevant question when new release time rolls around for the guitar icon(oclast). Not that Krantz himself seems to give the question much thought. He's more known for being preoccupied with things like inventing (and reinventing) himself, exploring and capturing ineffable group mojo, or pushing the envelope toward things he has yet to try or accomplish. And, as many longtime Krantz fans would surely tell you, rightfully so. Krantz is a seeker.
But there are still those inevitable fans who latch onto certain phases of Krantz's career and quietly hope the next release is akin to the period they adore most. The bad news for these folks is that they're probably not going to get what they are hoping for hereWrite Out Your Head
is like nothing Krantz has done before.
The good news also happens to be exactly thatWrite Out Your Head
is like nothing Krantz has done before. And even if some have trouble realizing it, that is the very thing one should want from an artist of his kind.
If only for its sheer compositional centricity might this album hearken back to Krantz's Long To Be Loose
(Enja, 1993) period, but there's barely a wisp of resemblance otherwise. In part that's because 27 years out, it's evident he's quite a different player with evolved sensibilities. Decidedly though it's the completely new approach Krantz has taken that truly sets Write Out Your Head
That approach being to wholly side-step the guitar as a conduit for musical conceptionsomething Krantz has never doneand, to a large degree, it's realization. Yes that's right, there's a lot less guitar on the album than one might expect. And, as is largely the case with the other musicians assembled here, when Krantz's guitar is present, it's playing lines and parts integral to the compositions. To that end, it's not so much that Krantz has shrunken his instrument's role for the album but in effect taken up playing a much larger onethe entire ensemble. The result is a Krantz album that bears some very special fruit. Write Out Your Head
delivers Krantz's savant-like rhythmic acumen expressed not on guitar, but through intricate divisions of group labor. This creates some remarkable constructs that can range anywhere from enhanced pocket to interlocking contrapuntal funkiness to things possibly best described as sonically deconstructed brainwave readouts. But while all this is dispersed over multiple instruments, it all somehow bears Krantz's identifiable imprint as surely if he played it on guitar. Additionally, the expansion from his usual guitar, bass and drum format to include keys and sax brings into bolder relief just what a special harmonic sense Krantz possesses.
Kudos go to bassists Tim Lefebvre
, Pino Palladino
and Orlando LeFleming
and saxophonist Chris Potter
(and to Krantz for enlisting them). At first glance it may seem that their talents might be under-utilized on an album with so little structural wiggle room (Potter does get a few characteristically spot-on, if brief solos). But the players prove invaluable in interpreting Krantz's vision in not only a necessarily exacting way, but a humanly expressive way as well.
In this regard, the album's MVP may be drummer Keith Carlock
, whom Krantz left virtually unscripted. His drumming is so natural, integrated and vital throughout, it leads you to believe that Carlock is the default drummer Krantz hears in his head. Given their long history together and the results here, that doesn't seem like much of a stretch.
The album ranks among Krantz's finest efforts and proves to be one whose depth of achievement comes into better focus with repeated listening. Moreover it shows an artist with a career spanning four decades still seeking and not playing it safe.
One can only guess as to what degree Write Out Your Head
successfully manifests what's actually going on in Mr. Krantz's head, but it unequivocally shows that it's a musically fascinating place to be.
Kulturny; Well Spoken Astronaut; Xandea; High 70s; Write Out Your Head; Ride; Hello World; Magic 44.
Wayne Krantz: guitar, Rhodes sequence; Gabriela Anders: percussion, vox; Keith Carlock: drums; Will Lee: bass (tracks 3,5,7); Tim LeFebvre: bass (track 8); Orlando LeFleming: bass (tracks 1,4); Pino Palladino: bass (tracks 2,6); Chris Potter: saxophone.