Brandon Coleman may well be one of the most unique guitar voices to emerge over the last decade.
Brent Black / www.criticaljazz.com
While New York City is widely considered the home for modern jazz guitar, Brandon Coleman is based out of Cincinnati and has the skills to jump into the jazz mecca of the universe with both feet. I have reviewed over three hundred guitarists in three years, Brandon Coleman leaps to the head of the class with his latest release Decisions. Artistic comparisons are inherently unfair to all parties and sometimes lethal in the hands of a critic with preconceived notions of what constitutes a truly unbiased base line of critical review. Coleman is special because he sounds like no one else. While his technical proficiency is beyond reproach, Coleman has an deceptively subtle artistic sense of harmonic movement that could be considered in the same style as that of a Bill Evans. One can pick out bits and pieces from a plethora of modern jazz giants but for sake of argument consider Danny Gatton meets John Abercrombie on the way to a Ralph Towner show if you feel the need to toss an arbitrary label on his craft.
Decisions is that rare release where four artistic voices merge as one to form a synergy that allows for a harmonious ebb and flow within each composition as well as the release in its entirety. From "New Blues" to the title track "Decisions" there is a meticulous approach of a melodic exploration that creates an almost ambient three dimensional sonic depth of field. Diego Lyra provides the perfect counterpoint for Coleman while bassist Luke McIntosh and drummer Bruno Gafanhoto are nuanced finesse in lyrical motion. Brandon Coleman plays clean with a sound unencumbered by a producer that has become far too friendly with the compression button. Improvisational music should never sound as though it has been sanitized for your protection.
I have reviewed numerous guitarists that have turned out great releases despite hitting a few harmonic bumps in the road along the way. Decisions has flow, depth and an amazing character that is the perfect marriage of simplicity and complexity made amazingly accessible. Decisions immediately goes into my memorable pile as a release that I will be returning to and often. This is the year of the Independent guitarist and for Brandon Coleman this is his coming out party. Larger labels would be remiss if they did not give this most deserving Independent artist the chance he so richly deserves. A stellar release to be sure!
Tracks: Rewind; New Blues; Vast; Deimos Phobos; Geometry; Decisions
Brandon Coleman - Guitar
Diego Lyra - Piano
Luke McIntosh - Bass
Bruno Gafanhoto - Drums