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JD Walter: One Step Away

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Among vocal-jazz adventurers, none-not Bleckmann, not Elling, not even Murphy-can rival the outré audacity of JD Walter. As is often the case with startling originals who defy easy classification, the Pennsylvania-born Walter is far better known throughout Europe. So although he is now seven albums into a singular and amazing recording career that began with 2000’s Sirens in the C-House, all but the most intrepid Stateside listeners remain unaware of his trailblazing derring-do.

For the uninitiated, One Step Away provides ideal entrée into Walter’s otherworldly world. Working alongside the equally phantasmagoric sonic trio Tarbaby (pianist Orrin Evans, bassist Eric Revis and drummer Nasheet Waits), Walter blends covers and originals that are decidedly not for the faint of ear.

Across six originals, including one each written with Revis and Waits, Walter exercises his passion for electronics, looping and scat with gleeful abandon. Exercising his trademark “de-arranging” on “I Will Wait for You” and a fittingly discordant “50 Ways to Leave Your Lover,” he returns to earth for a hauntingly beautiful reading of Todd Rundgren’s “Pretending to Care.” Extending the theme of isolation that defines the three covers, he travels from the atonal yearning of the title track to the stark, hollow “It’s Raining Today” and dual introspectiveness of “Inward” and the wordless “Inside Outfluence.” And, venturing to the most outer of limits, he partners with Waits to navigate the freeform musings of “How to Die and Where to Fly.”

Originally Published