Sunday, April 13, 2014

Jeff Denson & Joshua White I'll Fly Away pfMentum 2014

Critically acclaimed bassist Jeff Denson continues to expand his horizons with I'll Fly Away!
Brent Black /
Bassist Jeff Denson teams up with pianist Joshua White to show yet another side of his improvisational wheelhouse with an uplifting look at classic hymns and spirituals that continue to be the harmonic backbone of American spirituality despite the efforts of a vocal if not misguided minority. These are songs and stories of meaning for Denson the release is uniquely personal as this effort is dedicated to his grandmother and mother. The inspiration is drawn from several hymns performed at the funerals of both his father and maternal grandmother that helped raise him. Never satisfied to merely accept the role of a session player and with a forward thinking vision to expand his horizons as a leader, Jeff Denson is quickly moving up the improvisational food chain as one of preeminent bassists in world. 
The songs are familiar and include, "When The Saints Go Marching In" and "Just As I Am." The title track "I'll Fly Away" is used as somewhat of a reoccurring theme with three arrangements. The standout performance would be the solo bass of "Amazing Grace." The emotive quality that Denson channels transcends the more popular arrangements into something that moves sacred to a more rarefied level of harmonic wonder. The duo format is fraught with peril yet pianist Joshua White is far from an accompanist providing secondary lines with a distinct lyrical sense of purpose as the melodic conversations move unimpeded by what for some could be the overwhelming desire to play these compositions "straight."
I'll Fly Away was recorded primarily with first takes, the spirit moved them. It will move you as well, if not then hang in there as your improvisational autopsy should be ready soon.
Tracks: I'll Fly Away; Lord, I Want To Be A Christian; Down At The Cross; Amazing Grace; I'll Fly Away; What A Friend We Have In Jesus; When The Saints Go Marching In; Just As I Am; Crying In The Chapel; In The Garden; I'll Fly Away.
Early June release.