Every once in a while a CD comes along that so captures a reviewer’s attention it’s almost as if there aren’t enough superlatives to describe it. This is the case with guitarist Roch Lockyer’s first CD, Nondirectional. Joined by well-known trumpeter Ron Miles and pianist Art Lande, the two different ensembles Lockyer uses play with a fire, attention to detail and subtle shadings of style that set this disc apart from so much of today’s jazz.
Lockyer, a student of Lande and guitarists Jimmy Bruno and John Stowell, plays with a grace and slow rolling-boil fervor so lacking in today’s much too prevalent "jazz play-along" style that neither lends itself to excitement or the soul of jazz - namely musical communication. Lockyer, and his bandmates, listen carefully to what’s going on around them so acutely it’s obvious there is no point when each of the musicians isn’t totally in-the-moment. The resultant energy lights up this recording from the first to the last note.
With regard to technical chops, Lockyer shows he has taken his ample gifts and found a way to allow them to enhance his playing rather than be the reason for it. On "Hutch" the fast and flying bebopish melody gives way to a series of solos that are incredible. Lockyer plays the changes with an ease that belies the fact this is his first disc as a leader. Lande, who is incredible throughout this recording - does anybody remember the astonishing We Begin disc he did on ECM with Mark Isham? - plays a solo so superbly well-conceived it’s hard to understand why he hasn’t released a disc as a leader on a large label in a long time. With lines that are so logical the removal of any single note would diminish the solo greatly, Lande proves why he’s developed a reputation for being such a noted teacher.
Trumpeter Ron Miles adds a strong voice on a few of the cuts, but perhaps no more poignant than on "Mim." Miles has been an undervalued trumpeter for too long, and his silky tone, turned on its side with a biting edge at the most appropriate of moments, is as beautiful as ever. His moments of slight avant-gardism only emphasize just how colorful he can be, as well as endlessly inventive.
There is no moment or track that isn’t full of beautiful melodies, sleight of hand wit or marvelous interplay. It’s a shame recordings like this come along so infrequently.