MP3 Gregory James Quartet - Samsara
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9 MP3 Songs
JAZZ: Jazz quartet, JAZZ: Latin Jazz
We have seen premier jazz performers defined, whether for one album or â¨an era, by a skillfully crafted reworking of a well-known pop song â the way Coltrane is synonymous with "My Favorite Things," and Louis Armstrong with "Wonderful World." Itâs a case of the right instrument on the right song at the right time.
Over the course of a thirty-year career, Gregory James has written most of his own material, and that is true again on his ninth album Samsara (Rogue 1080-5). But the track that may best define this rewarding release is his amazing, touching cover of the Beatlesâ "And I Love Her." It is a simple and thoughtful rendition, unmistakably Gregory James with rich twists and turns from his flamenco-jazz-style guitar, colorful bass guitar work and daring woodwind play.â¨
The San Francisco guitarist, like his hometown, embodies the word "fusion." His previous two albums, the critically-acclaimed Come To Me and Reincarnation, are fully-produced electric world jazz albums with turntablists, spoken word, strings, horns and lots of studio know-how behind the leaderâs acoustic guitar. Switching gears on Samsara, Gregory has come back to the basics with a quartet and very little, if any, studio effects. Raw tracks, real playing, and itâs captured with beautiful "invisible" production by Cookie Marenco.
Ladies and gentlemen, this is Gregory James.
Recorded at Marencoâs OTR Studios in the Bay area following an eight-day Pacific Northwest tour by Gregory's quartet in April of 2007, Samsara is reminiscent of ECM label jazz recordings â spacious, warm, and intensely honest. There's nowhere to hide.â¨
The title track, "Samsara," introduces us to bassist Jonathan Herrera, the latest in a long line of premier bassists that have worked with Gregory (Kai Eckhardt, Benny Rietveld, Derek Jones, to name a few). Herreraâs bass dances over and under the leaderâs guitar comping, leading into some beautiful call and response between guitar and flute. When Gregory digs into his rhythm, flutist Baron Shulman is free to take flight.â¨ Gregory's buoyant, agile guitar propels "A Bench By The Sea" and Herrera contributes a lovely solo.
Drummer Deszon Claiborne displays beautiful dynamics and attention to the musicality of each moment. Sometimes the groove is abandoned altogether for a dynamic swell of some kind. Having proven himself as an awesome funk drummer on Gregoryâs previous two releases, Claiborne displays a feathery light touch here. â¨
Gregory's longtime musical foil, saxophonist/flutist Baron Shul, is back on board, and on Samsara he has the time and space to stretch out and play some long tones. His soaring, halting flute work plays well off Gregoryâs flowing guitar on "Akvavit."â¨ Shul switches to baritone sax for the smokey and sweet "Quantum Love," and keeps the tone equally mellow picking up the alto sax for "Masseyâs Waltz."â¨Gregory puts a unique stamp on "And I Love Her." He injects clever slides into the melodic hooks, giving things a bit of an Indian sitar sound that would make George Harrison smile. The tight guitar-bass interplay on the bridge leads into an adventurous flute romp, and they all solo together on the playful outvamp. â¨Fans of lush chords will enjoy Gregory's take on the John Coltrane classic, "Naima." The guitarist lays a delectable harmonic backdrop while Shulâs flute sails high. The brisk bossa, "Evening Bell," is guided by Claiborneâs crisp cross-sticking, and is a perfectly lovely way to spend six minutes. The disc closes with an ambient reprise of "Quantum Love," originally on Gregoryâs 1978 Inner City release Alicia, conceived and arranged for Samsara by Blu Cube.
The Gregory James Quartetâ¨
Gregory James, guitar
Deszon Claiborne, drums and percussion â¨
Jonathan Herrera, bass guitarâ¨
Baron Shul, baritone and alto saxophones, flute, alto fluteâ¨
Samsara 7:01â¨A Bench By The Sea 3:47â¨Akvavit 4:16â¨Quantum Love 5:11â¨Massey's Waltz 6:01â¨And I Love Her 5:15â¨Naima 4:41â¨Evening Bell 6:15 â¨Quantum Love (Reprise) 2:18
total running time 48:08â¨
Recorded, mixed and mastered by Cookie Marenco at OTR Studios, Belmont, CA. Aassistant engineer: Patrick O'connorâ¨.
Gregory James plays flamenco guitars by Lester Devoe (https://www.tradebit.com) and Keith Vizcarra (https://www.tradebit.com) â¨
Jonathan Herrera plays citron bass guitars
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