Sunday, July 21, 2013

Will Lee Love, Gratitude and Other Distractions Sinning Saint Ltd. 2013

Love, Gratitude and Other Distractions
A release so unbelievably good it makes you wanna punch someone...
Brent Black / @CriticalJazz

Title? 5 Stars...Cover Art? 5 Stars...Now when  you look at the musical cast of co-conspirators here there is no way this release should work. Love, Gratitude and Other Distractions is an incredibly witty, ironically dark, yet whimsically introspective look at...Love, Gratitude and Other Distractions. A semi-autobiographical tale of a bassist that has not been hiding out in the jazz witness protection program, he has just been incredibly busy. Perhaps the intangible that makes this release work so well aside from the diverse talent including Pat Metheny, Billy Gibbons, and Allan Toussaint is you have one of the finest bass players on the planet that has gone off the harmonic deep end with a release that defies standard categorization. This could be a critics worst nightmare. For me, it may well be the new sound that contemporary jazz needs but I simply can not fathom another artist with the talent to pull it off. Am I gushing?

When possible I like to talk to the artist about the release but instead I'll borrow a quote from Lee, "Every song is it's own little adventure. And every word of it is true." One can only imagine the back story on "Get Out Of My Life Woman" with ZZ Top guitarist Billy Gibbons. A funk infused filthy McNasty, these two players are pure gold together. New Orleans legend Allen Toussaint got the call for the piano part and the resulting flavor here is way out of bounds. One of the few instrumentals on the release but easily one of the best tunes is "Papounet's Ride" which turns into an incessant groove thanks to the skill of Narada Michael Walden and Lee's chameleon like harmonics on bass. Bob James is...well, Bob James here and that would be yet another stellar piano solo. The musical whimsy is a blast from the past in a deconstructed riff on Len Barry's vibrant chart topper from 1965, "1-2-3" where Lee teams up with singer Akiko Yano for a cooled out bossa vibe that would make Jobim green with envy. The closing tune from Charlie Chaplin "Smile" features Will Lee and the great Chuck Loeb for a dazzling and heartfelt instrumental riff on a timeless American classic. Beautiful.

Love, Gratitude and Other Distractions can best be described as what happens when all the sonic stars are in perfect alignment and you happen to be pretty tight with some of the best names in the business. Unlike other contemporary artists that insist on laying down lame vocal tracks, Lee can sing and his timing and phrasing are almost a mirror image of his prolific talent on bass. Anything to grind on about here? No way...

The perfect blend of styles, genres and prolific guest stars for a release simply packed with flavor!

5 Stars!

Tracks: Gratitude; Get Out Of My Life Woman; Miss Understanding; Papounet's Ride; Fooled Him; Shahara; 1-2-3; Simple Way To Say I Love You; Natives; Smile.

Personnel: Will Lee: Vocals, Fretless Bass, Guitar, Wah Wah Guitar, Organ, Synth Programming; Paul Shaffer: Organ; Leni Stern: Ngoni, Rhythm Guitar; Chris Parker: Drums; Jeff Kievit: Trumpet; Giulio Carmassi: Trombones; Billy Gibbons: Vocals, Rhythm & Solo Guitars; Allen Toussaint: Piano; Shawn Pelton: Drums, Shaker; Hugh McCracken: Acoustic Guitar; Kenny White: Piano & Organ; Larry Campbell: Pedal Steel Guitar; Tommy Allen: Drums; Mark Hudson & Larry Hoppen: Background Vocals; Chrissy Amphlett: Solo Vocal; Bob James; Piano Solo, Electric Piano & Synth; David Delhomme: Rhodes & Synth; Narada Michael Walden: Drums; Chuck Loeb: Guitars; Oli Rockberger: Keyboard; Steve Gadd: Drums; Mitch Forman; Keyboards & Programming; Zach Danziger: Drums; Yacouba Sissoko: Kora; Kofo Ayananfowora: Talking Drum; Tabitha Fair: Solo & Background Vocals; Dave Eggar: Cello; Louise Schulman: Viola; Gary Schreiner: Harmonica; John Tropea: Guitar; Peter Erskine: Drums; David Garfield: Keyboards; CJ Vanston: Additional Synths; Steve Lukather: Guitar Solo; Oz Noy: Guitar; Steve Gadd: Drums.

Extra Special Thanks To Michael Bloom at Michael Bloom Media Relations.