Intimate and accessible.
Innovative, yet infused with tradition.
This album invites multiple listens and offers rich delight.
Sometimes, when there are a lot of players and a lot of genres involved, efforts can fall flat of the best intentions, but not here. This album is rooted in funk and blues and R&amp;amp;B and that allows for immediate connection, even in the most way out moments.
In terms of improvisation, each player is given complete freedom and the results echo the process. The long, long list of musicians (*) includes Chick Corea, Roy Hargrove, Dennis Chambers, Questlove, Adam Blackstone, Terrace Martin, Justin Gilbert, Kamasi Washington and Edwin Livingston. High levels of expertise and trust lead to immensely satisfying experimentation on this album where even forms and structures become fluid. But there is nothing chaotic or spliced about this effort. The innovation is authentic and dynamic, and ideas and feelings are developed poetically in myriad ways:
“Chrysalis” (featuring Chick Corea on Minimoog and Rhodes), juxtaposes the sure-footed and powerful female vocals of Mashica Winslow with the soft, warm texture created by the instrumentals. The unique and intriguing compositional arrangement suggests forms within forms. Eventually, we’re carried into a new world that feels quite avant, echoing the thematic metaphor of emergence, uplift and rebirth.
As you’re left there, drying your wings in the sun, the next track, “He Is,” begins to flow from this multi-dimensional place. Winslow’s warm tone on Flugelhorn takes us to a reflective depth, carried by his blues-implied, bittersweet melody. An unusual arrangement places vocals at around 3:40, followed by the horn’s revisit to melody, ending with a long poetic sustain.
“Baltimore Crabcakes” is another example of thought-provoking composition. This funk-infused jazzy/bluesy tune is really fashioned like a classical piece because every voice and every note is integral to the whole. The groove here is spell-binding and achieved by giving equal weight and purpose to each voice—from the brief sound of the needle hitting vinyl to the lengthy consistency of Craig Brockman providing anchors of sustain on the B3 organ.
On “Kings,” the instrumentation itself provides endless possibility and the subtle layers are deeply involving. (Dontae Winslow-trumpet, young Jedi Winslow-vocals, Kenneth Whalum-sax, Adam Blackstone-bass, Justin Gilbert-grandpiano, Warryn Campbell-B3organ, Aaron Draper-percussion, Omar Edwards-Juno 106, George "Spanky" McCurdy-drums, and Joel Whitely-guitar). This tune begins with an intriguing drum solo that is magically both tight and loose. The melody here reminds me of flying along a highway in a red convertible, but gimmicks are avoided as well-placed blue notes help the feeling settle into a bittersweet authenticity. The intermittent wah-wah of the guitar reminds me of something, but I can’t quite put my finger on it. Then, at 3:15 or so, something WILD happens with the keys, but just for a few notes, bringing us into a melodic bass solo also characterized by chordal voicing. The way the musicians interlace you inside the jazz of it all—it’s kind of astounding.
As a whole, this album is structured such that the previous tune feathers the nest for the next. This careful construction enhances the intimate vibe and invites the listener into a level of comfort that allows for risk-taking on the part of listening. You recognize something familiar from past or present, and you’re comfortable because you know what you like. But with each and every tune, you don’t get anything you might have expected. Each tune takes you on a unique journey filled with discovery and new questions. If you have a curious mind and seek out open doors, you will enjoy this album.
“Blaxploitation &amp;amp; Revolution”: This is a very poetic, musically ambitious and radical composition. This piece offers a supreme groove carried by the exaggeratedly deep and driving bass lines (Miles Mosley, Ed Livingston) and increasingly complex and heavy drums and percussion (Gene Coye, Terry Sentiel). This anchor is set against and married with all kinds of adventurous sounds and themes, with the most amazing being the operatic vocals. Mashica Winslow’s voice covers such a range of intensity that a glass is sure to shatter. This unique passage is a respectful reminder of earlier important work brought to us by Nina Simone, Sun Ra and Max Roach. The operatic interlude spans just the right amount of time, because you’re left wanting more. I love the way Blaxploitation &amp;amp; Revolution ends: like a space ship taking off, which serves to also appropriately unite us with the best of the Funkadelic tradition.
“2304 West North Avenue”: On this slow-boiling, feverishly-swinging, bluesy tune, Winslow whispers into your ear with a technique that feels like he’s speaking directly to you through the horn. He is no tricks and all soul. The trio context provides a solid groove throughout, with the funk deeply embedded.
“Summer Cookout”: This tune features Roy Hargrove on Flugelhorn and has already become one of my favorite songs of all time. If you are stressed out, this tune is the anti-dote. The metaphor mirrors the music and vice-versa. In times of fat and in times of lean, sharing meal on a beautiful day with friends and family is what it’s all about. The subtle funk of the bass and drums (Blackstone and Questlove) anchor the floating~strong feeling of light sparkling on water. Words are implied by the melody, and the balance between individuals and the group as a whole is like a really good party where everyone is comfortable and allowed to be who they are.
A priceless feeling.
Link to in-depth interview with Mr. Winslow, conducted by Monique Avakian on the Rivertowns Jazz Blog:
(*) FULL LIST OF MUSICIANS provided by Ransom Entertainment:
Dontae Winslow-trumpet, Kenneth Whalum-sax, Adam Blackstone-bass
Justin Gilbert-grandpiano, Craig Brockman-B3organ, Gene Coye-drums
Dontae Winslow-trumpet, Jedi Winslow-vocals, Kenneth Whalum-sax, Adam Blackstone-bass
Justin Gilbert-grandpiano, Warryn Campbell-B3organ, Aaron Draper-percussion
Omar Edwards-Juno 106, George "Spanky" McCurdy-drums, Joel Whitely-guitar
Dontae Winslow-Trumpet/flugelhorn, Mashica Winslow-vocals, Chick Corea-Minimoog &amp;amp; Rhodes
DJ Khalil-ArpSynthesizer, Dan Seeff-bass/guitar, Brian Frasier Moore-Drums
Dontae Winslow-Flugelhorn, Warryn Campbell-rhodes, Justin Gilbert-grandpiano
Dontae Winslow-trumpet, Walter Smith III-sax, Miro Sprague-grandpiano
Dave Robaire-bass, Johnathan Penison-drums
Blaxploitation &amp;amp; Revolution
Dontae Winslow-Trumpet/Rap, Mashica Winslow-vocals, Kamasi Washington-sax, Elliot Ives-guitar
Cameron Graves-piano, Miles Mosley-bass, Ed Livingston-bass, Brandon Coleman-Minimoog
Gene Coye-drums, Terry Sentiel-Percussion, Mike Scott-guitar, Sam Barsh-Nord Lead
Red Bells, Red Wine, &amp;amp; Red Lingerie
Mashica Winslow-Vocals,Dontae Winslow-trumpet, Justin Gilbert-grandpiano, Adam Blackstone-bass, Lil John Roberts-drums
Mashica &amp;amp; Jedi
Dontae Winslow-flugelhorn, Jacob Yoffee-grandpiano,
Ed Livingston-bass, Wes Precourt-Violin, Hanah Stuart-Viola, Paul Wiancko, Cello
2304 West North Avenue
Dontae Winslow-trumpet, Sam Barsh-piano, Ed Livingston-bass
Drinks On Me
Dontae Winslow-trumpet/vocoder, Mashica Winslow-vocals, Roy Hargrove-trumpet, Dennis Chambers-drums
Antonio Hart-sax, Warryn Campbell-rhodes, Daniel Jones-Korg synthesizer, Mike Scott-guitar
Bobby Sparks-MinimoogD /Arp 2600 Synthesizer, Aaron Camper-vocals, Jack "JK" King-vocals
The Regiment Horns- Sean Erik-trumpet, Leon Silva-Sax, Lasim Richards-Trombone, Terrace Martin-sax, Kamasi Washington-sax
Dontae Winslow-trumpetwahwah pedal/vocoder,Mashica Winslow-vocals, QuestLove-drums, Jack "JK" King-vocals
Roy Hargrove-flugelhorn, Shon Hinton-guitar, Darryl Pearson-guitar, Adam Blackstone-bass
Mixing mastering by Grammy Winners:
Mixed by Peter Mokran
Mastered by Brian "BigBass" Gardner
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