Become a member and get exclusive access to articles, live sessions and more!
Start Your Free Trial

Joel Forrester’s Second nature: Down the Road

JazzTimes may earn a small commission if you buy something using one of the retail links in our articles. JazzTimes does not accept money for any editorial recommendations. Read more about our policy here. Thanks for supporting JazzTimes.

Quirky-brilliant pianist-composer Joel Forrester has gained a rabid cult following for his wondrous Monkish ditties penned on behalf of the Microscopic Septet and the offbeat, thoroughly engaging People Like Us quartet. His strong individualist streak is in full effect on his latest outing, but the composer is courting a decidedly different muse here-a touch of Starless and Bible Black-era King Crimson on “Second Nature” and “Vortex.” Clearly a detour for the prolific Forrester, who penned the catchy theme song for NPR’s Fresh Air radio show, Down the Road was recorded in Paris with a new group of musicians, including the great French guitarist Manu Codjia.

The slamming “Rockabye” and the avant garde-ish “Vortex” must certainly be the loudest tunes Forrester’s ever played on, perhaps a nod to the Bad Plus. “Skirmish” carries the same quaint quirkiness we associate with Forrester, but then Codjia comes in with distortion-laced fusillades to suddenly pull the whole thing into Allan Holdsworth land. “Spring Ahead” is another one of those dainty, engaging melodies that Forrester seems to be able to toss off in his sleep. But at the 1:30 mark, he gives it up to an unaccompanied four-minute drum solo by Frenchman Richard Portier. It’s as if he’s purposely avoiding all his usual comfort zones on this project, pushing himself in different directions.

Start Your Free Trial to Continue Reading

Become a JazzTimes member to explore our complete archive of interviews, profiles, columns, and reviews written by music's best journalists and critics.
Originally Published