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Kneebody: Chapters (Edition)

A review of the quartet's latest album

Kneebody, Chapters
The cover of Chapters by Kneebody

Moving through disparate meters, genres, and modulations with well-oiled sophistication, Kneebody upends jazz convention, morphing funk, jazz, dance, electronic, chamber, and everything in between. At the root of their sound sit the profound drums of Nate Wood. To hear him live is to understand the genesis of this multi-headed organism that rolls funky drums below and surreal melodic bursts above.

Chapters breaks no new ground for Kneebody stylistically, yet adds vocals on five tracks (Gretchen Parlato, Michael Mayo, Becca Stevens, Josh Dion), encouraging crossover possibilities. Adam Benjamin on keyboards, Shane Endsley on trumpet, Ben Wendel on tenor saxophone, and Wood—now handling both bass and drums following the departure of bassist Kaveh Rastegar—get their tranquil-meets-explosive mojo working throughout Chapters, starting with the opening track, “Spectra.”

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Ken Micallef

Ken Micallef was once a jazz drummer; then he found religion and began writing about jazz rather than performing it. (He continues to air-drum jazz rhythms in front of his hi-fi rig and various NYC bodegas.) His reportage has appeared in Time Out, Modern Drummer, DownBeat, Stereophile, and Electronic Musician. Ken is the administrator of Facebook’s popular Jazz Vinyl Lovers group, and he reviews vintage jazz recordings on YouTube as Ken Micallef Jazz Vinyl Lover.