The balance of handsome melody and harmony with fractured rhythm on KingMaker augurs exciting things from 23-year-old vibraphonist Joel Ross. Actually, it is exciting in itself. The album is Ross’ debut, after previous high-profile appearances with drummer Makaya McCraven and pianist James Francies. Like those two young pioneers, he’s got a terrific concept in the offing.
Regard, for example, the title track. It exploits the vibes’ inherently gauzy, dreamy character, with Ross’ Good Vibes band (alto saxophonist Immanuel Wilkins, pianist Jeremy Corren, bassist Benjamin Tiberio, drummer Jeremy Dutton) intensifying that core trait, strengthening it into a gorgeous full-on waltz, then collapsing it into shambolic free-funk that slowly reincorporates the waltz form. It’s a remarkable, and remarkably organic, six-minute journey.