Standard of Language
Following a blazing postbop rendition of the standard "What Is This Thing Called Love?," altoist-sopranoist Kenny Garrett and his quartet brilliantly execute a program of freshly original Garrett compositions on his new Standard of Language (Warner Bros.). The closest thing to a "song" in this collection might be "Just a Second to Catch My Breath," where Garrett's gorgeous alto sound is showcased. But the rest of the tunes are true instrumental compositions, with many of them taken at very fast tempos and some based on modal or slow-moving harmonies. Throughout, Garrett dances, cries, screeches and/or squawks in an extraordinary example of his personal amalgamation of bop and free-jazz elements. The great excitement he generates reflects an especially empathetic relationship with drummer Chris Dave, who's constantly upfront, creating a continual flurry of visceral rhythms and irresistible momentum. The energetic pianist Vernell Brown appears always ready with the appropriate harmonic underpinning and bassist Charnett Moffett works perfectly in synch with Dave in creating that unyielding drive. This album is destined to be among a lot of folks' favorites this year.