With sideman credits including Ray Charles and Ahmad Jamal, Calvin Keys of the Bay Area makes a strong showing on Vertical Clearance, his second release for the eclectic Wide Hive label. It’s an enigmatic mix of old- and new-school sounds, produced by Gregory Howe of the postfusion collective Variable Unit. The majority of the cuts have multiple composer credits, suggesting a free-flowing, collaborative aesthetic. Keys’ unadorned soul-jazz guitar glides through an array of sonic environments, with funk, acid-jazz and DJ-culture influences and an extensive roster of players-including saxophonist Sonny Fortune, trombonist Phil Ranelin and drummer Babatunde Lea, to name a few.
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