Every now and again there comes an artist who in his/her own way helps to reconstitute jazz in a manner conducive to raising its consciousness to another level of appreciation. Nowadays, the proliferation of generic unadulterated smooth jazz influences has in many ways tainted the legacy of traditional jazz artists. When the opportunity arises to experience an artist who has the ability to re-define the genre, a level of excitement is generated and highly anticipated. In the case of a drummer by the name of Keefe Marzell and his group Vintage, the dynamics of contemporary jazz are aired atmospherically and effervescently. He has a knack for taking his music to a level of understanding that is quite mesmerizing and full of excitement. As a native of Detroit, Michigan, Keefe Marzell carries within him the intensity and vibrancy of the so-called Motown sound. His latest CD entitled Drawn Windows is a measure of those influences, while also magnifying the essence of funk, R&B, hip-hop, jazz and gospel music. This debut offering has a theme that is filled with smooth grooves, tantalizing rhythms and a high volume of urban induced harmonies.
As with most contemporary jazz releases, R&B styled influences are usually prominently displayed throughout the entire album. In this particular case, Keefe does exactly that with surges of elemental grooves, systematic bass lines and hooks that satisfy an insatiable desire for jazz that’s mellow. There is also a level of augmentation that provides a tinge of explosive high-end energy. Seemingly, as one of jazz’s newest influences, the lines between up and coming artist and seasoned musician are transparent. Much of what Keefe plays during eleven tracks of magic is quite revealing. He exhibits a style that is well beyond his years, as he melds the varying influences of everything original into one unique sound. Overall, this is a CD for a new generation of jazz fans; however, Keefe also captures the majesty of jazz as seen during its heyday.Although Keefe Marzell may be unduly classified as a smooth jazz practitioner, his approach to his craft transcends the predictable. In his own manner of conveyance, Keefe brings credibility back to a sometimes dull and mundane style of jazz. He even simplifies it with the ease of a seasoned journeyman. He pushes the envelope of funk to generate enthused rhythmic responses, but he can also weave a web of intrigue with a soft-handed mood that captures the imagination. Whenever you think of Keefe Marzell, Drawn Windows will immediately come to mind as one of jazz’s most dynamic recordings of its time.