Gerry Hemingway Quintet: Double Blues Crossing

Gerry Hemingway image 0
Gunnar Holmberg

Gerry Hemingway

Few jazz-inspired composers integrate electronics into their repertoire as effectively as drummer-composer Gerry Hemingway. Actually, I’ve not heard any do it nearly as well. Hemingway’s sampler work on the title suite is an integral element that combines with an advanced compositional sense to form a fascinating, wonderfully conceived whole. As complex as this music is, it comes off naturally and seemingly without effort.

Joining Hemingway is an excellent band that includes reed player Frank Gratkowski, trombonist Wolter Wierbos, cellist Amit Sen and bassist Kermit Driscoll. That they execute the formally eccentric compositions with such a combination of meticulousness and palpable enthusiasm says a lot about the quality of Hemingway’s leadership. The solo work is fine (Wierbos is stunning), but the compositions are the star of the show. Hemingway is going where few jazz musicians have gone before, and he’s doing it with rare intelligence and musical sophistication. In fact, this album is so good, I’m inspired to dust off the most hackneyed two-word phrase in the critic’s lexicon: “highly recommended.” Seldom has its use been more apt.