Mack Avenue Music Group releases a stunning colored vinyl of an emerging jazz star.
Joey Alexander – Origin, Vinyl Release – Mack Avenue Music Group MAC1198LP 2-LP Sea Glass Colored Double Vinyl + Digital Download, 52:45 ****1/2:
(Joey Alexander – piano, Fender Rhodes; Larry Grenadier – double bass; Kendrick Scott – drums; Gilad Hekselman – electric guitar; Chris Potter – soprano saxophone, tenor saxophone)
The piano has been a core instrument in jazz lore. From Bud Powell to Thelonious Monk, Dave Brubeck to Keith Jarrett, Bill Evans to Chick Corea, there was always someone to carry the torch. One of the rising stars of piano jazz is 19-year old Joey Alexander. This prodigy sat in with Wynton Marsalis and Jazz At Lincoln Center where he was 10 years old. His debut album My Favorite Things (2016) featured an inspired cover of “‘Round Midnight”, and established his emergence as a rising star. Alexander has already been nominated for three Grammys. Each release chronicles his progressing musical legacy.
Mack Avenue Music Group has released a special “sea glass colored” double vinyl of Alexander’s sixth album. Origin is comprised of ten original compositions and arrangements. This represents a significant career development. The primary instrumental structure is trio (Larry Grenadier/bass; Kendrick Scott/drums), but Gilad Hekselman (guitar) and Chris Potter (saxophone) contribute to this project. Side A opens with a gospel-infused intro on “Remembering”. Alexander’s ruminative play leads into rhythmic gliding runs that are both improvisational and interactive with the rhythm section. His lyrical, flexible piano is focused.”On The Horizon” embraces a gentler mood and Potter’s exotic soprano motifs are framed by a reticent counterpoint by Alexander. His delicate, hushed solo is articulate and hypnotic. On “Dear Autumn’, a smooth vamp/groove is established as the pianist weaves gracefully through the melody. His adroit notation intermingles with the cohesive bass and drum.
Side B takes a funky turn on “Winter Blues”, as the trio is joined by Potter on tenor and Hekselman on electric guitar. The full “quintet” exudes a fusion-like soulful ambiance. Alexander switches to electric piano, adding to the edgier texture. Back on acoustic piano, “Promise Of Spring” revisits the ethereal resonance of the core trio. Alexander’s exquisitely nuanced performance distills the inherent reflective mood with subtle tempo adjustments. With an intro on electric piano, the quartet (with guitar) heats up. Hekselman executes a spirited run, and Alexander follows with up tempo hard bop inflection. His playing is forceful with punctuated timing. “Midnight Waves” has a ruminative dynamic with a haunting vibe. Small touches like a drum brush and double bass solo add to the complicated musical tapestry. Alexander manages to inject emotion with a steady pulse on “Angel Eyes”. His grasp of timing is exceptional. Side D’s opening track (“Rise Up”) showcases the full ensemble in a freer jazz exploration with Potter and Hekselman trading licks. The finale (“Hesitation”) glows with authentic warmth and understated elegance.
Origin is a defining moment for Joey Alexander. The music is complex and deeply moving. Both jazz lovers and vinyl enthusiasts will appreciate this eye-popping colored double vinyl release from Mack Avenue Music Group.
Side A: Remembering; On The Horizon; Dear Autumn
Side B: Winter Blues; Promise Of Spring
Side C: Summer Rising; Midnight Waxes; Angel Eyes
Side D: Rise Up; Hesitation.
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