Saturday, February 8, 2014

Kris Bowers Heroes & Misfits Concord 2014



The future for improvisational music is indeed bright thanks to artists such as Kris Bowers!

Brent Black / www.criticaljazz.com


Kris Bowers gets it, the piano is a percussive instrument. It may well be this simple fact that allows Kris to deploy his talents in a far more subtle fashion than some of his contemporaries. Heroes & Misfits is a true contemporary collaborative effort centered around the simple yet powerful vision of capturing the power within each of us. There is a potentially obvious land mine marked "self indulgent" that could be easily tripped yet Bowers keeps it simple allowing the strength of his music along with his own prolific talent to elevate the ordinary into an extraordinary state. The new groove for modern jazz has arrived.


Name sound familiar? Kris took home the prize as the winner of the 2011 Thelonious Monk competition. There are some tossing out comparisons to Robert Glasper yet Heroes and Misfits is far from one dimensional and certainly not constructed for a narrow bandwidth of listeners.  The addition of guest vocalists can potentially kill a release such as this before there is even the slightest chance at life, not here. Wordsmith Jeremie Harris has constructed lyrical poetry that embodies the spirit of the music and not the reverse as is so often the case. Vocal artists Julia Easterlin delivers a haunting performance with "Forget-er" while Chris Turner and Jose' James add their own unique flavor to a release that is steeped in richness and harmonic diversity. "Wake The Neighbors" is a jazz tune wrapped up in a full metal jacket. A pulse pounding indie industrial vibe that hits the cerebral / visceral sweet spot. "Drift" is dialed back with Bill Evans like harmonic movement and a less is more zen like beauty that could be the sound track for a city just before dawn. There is nothing over the top yet this offering remains a cutting edge slice of the new American cultural landscape.

Kris Bowers is young and fresh but far from a 'newbie." I've always said, "Length of time and competency don't necessarily go hand in hand." Kris is an old soul with a contemporary vision. Old school can become new cool in the hands of an artist. The potential here is mind blowing. This is improvisational music for the next generation.

Tracks: Forever Spring; Wake The Neighbors; #TheProtestor; Vices and Virtues; Forget-er; Wonderlove; Forever Wonder; Drift; First; Ways of Light.