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Darrell Grant: Truth and Reconciliation

Darrell Grant has said, “I choose to believe in the power of humans to change the world … I believe that we who create art possess an extraordinary power to communicate, inspire, provoke, inform and to move others to transform society.”

Truth and Reconciliation is an ambitious double album that attempts nothing less than putting the above beliefs into practice. A piano trio with John Patitucci and Brian Blade is the foundation from which Grant builds his statement-taking diverse elements and shaping them into a single arc, he has fashioned an album that is mostly moving and persuasive.

Grant draws inspiration from several sources: his nine original compositions are augmented by surprising covers of material penned by Sting, Jerome Kern and Sheryl Crow, and compelling contributions arrive courtesy of guests Steve Wilson on reeds, Bill Frisell and Adam Rogers on guitar, and Joe Locke on vibes. Excerpts of archival spoken words from Gandhi, JFK, FDR and Nelson Mandela are utilized to positive effect.

Grant’s piano work possesses a sensitive lyricism, and his tunes are gentle yet melodically firm. The guests are audibly committed to Grant’s message: On “Reconciliation,” Frisell’s guitar notes (those signature glittering raindrops) suggest natural reflections and enhancements of Grant’s piano. Locke’s fills on “The Way You Look Tonight” are hushed whispers. Wilson’s soprano saxophone tone is so luxuriant it could be an end in itself. Instead, he serves Grant’s story, embodying enlightenment on “Ubuntu,” celebration on “Blues for the Masters.”

Grant contributes vocals but those are the weakest moments. His voice is pleasant, but his well-intentioned, sentimental lyrics suffer when sharing album space with the aforementioned cultural icons.

A major reason for this album’s success is the recorded sound achieved by one of the great unsung engineers of jazz, Joe Ferla. He bathes this music in a warm light that is beautifully appropriate to Grant’s quest and testament.

Originally Published