This straight-ahead CD is so very welcome and full of what so many of us miss.
The title track is not a shy piece, it tells the listening audience to jump right on the ship for a great cruise through sound and great artistry. Each player is sharing the captain’s hat in stellar musicianship. This is a fine example of friendly competition between bandmates to make great music, not for individual stardom. Michael Aarons, Sebastian Weiss do it so well, you have to just sit back and take it all in. Ranaan Meyer and Dan Weiss are right there on the field, guaranteeing the touchdown.
Right from the start of "The Initiation," I was reminded of Herbie Hancock’s "Speak Like A Child," for some reason. The calm and serene melody combined with the interplay between instruments brought it back. Aarons work in this resembles some of Grant Green’s work in sessions such as "Idle Moments." I could say that it’s all so very "Blue Note," though that could be a limitation. The label is not as significant so much as what came from Blue Note in its truest heyday. Listening to Weiss’ piano solo, Hancock, Billy Higgins and Jodie Christian come to mind. There’s such beauty in the work.
The impressive drum work by Dan Weiss is some of the best I’ve heard in a while. Meyer manages to be more than noticed in the way that we notice Niels Orsted-Pederson playing along side Dexter Gordon. All are kindred musical spirits speaking the same language, but bringing their unique sense of groove to the table. It’s also interesting that for a live performance, it’s as clear as one could hope to expect from the studio; to the point that only the audience’s ovation gives it away.
"Awakening" has the gorgeous sound we’d associate with Lee Morgan’s "Search For the New Land." It is a truly thought provoking piece, ripe with imagination and sensitivity. Again, the musicians come together in the spirit of Hancock, Green, Morgan and Cranshaw. I was taken with the very short "More Than You Know," as I remembered one of my favorite Earl Klugh albums several years ago. Yes, Mr. Aarons truly struck the chord here with such a lovely end to a great piece of work.
Let’s make it very clear that duplication of early masters is not the sole impression, but when musicians get it, it’s wonderful to hear and experience. Judging the CD as a whole, the tracks are strong; the group fills the air with emotion and brings a whole new dimension to this type of jazz. Everyone is wide-awake and at their best. If I’ve been comparing too much, forgive my retro nature. It is only to underscore the fact that the talent and recognition should be given to this fine group of jazz artists. They know their stuff!