Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Justin Merritt Blender Innova 2014

The music of Justin Merritt comes to life thanks to the prolific style of pianist Matthew McCright.
Brent Black / www.criticaljazz.com
Somewhere between free jazz and a more introspective straight ahead approach there is the release Blender. A conceptual exploratory of the percussive possibilities of the piano forte asks the musical question, "What would kind of music would sound good in a bar attached to a bowling alley." An interesting concept with occasional flashes of a highly creative presentation cuts an incredibly wide path of both sound and nuanced texture.
From the fury of the opening composition "Blender" to the melancholy and intimate style of "Sprinkles" there is an amazing versatility in sound which at times creates a slight disconnect when one considers the more traditional concept of ebb and flow. Blender makes no pretentious attempt to play it straight but is instead a look at the harmonic road less traveled. An aptly titled release as Blender brings together a myriad of possibilities seldom explored in a setting such as this. Working without a net is dangerous, pianist McCright makes it look easy.
Experimental would be a cop out in attempting to describe the sound and possible intent of this most adventurous work. Imagine Keith Jarrett working without a net, more so than usual. Those familiar with the Innova label have a good reference point to understand that the artists recorded are those that are far more left of center than most. The tired and the traditional are rare commodities indeed, this is both a highly cerebral and visceral slap in the face. Different is never bad, just different.
4 Stars
For more information go to www.innova.com.