Drummer Matt Jorgensen need not worry about the pitfall of the sophomore slump with his second release as a leader, Quiet Silence. It contains some of the freshest and most honest playing on any jazz CD this year. Jorgensen and his band, 451, play complex, progressive music but make it sound as natural as breathing.
Unlike some bands led from the drum kit, Jorgensen and 451 showcase the music, not the percussionist. While an imaginative and gifted drummer, Jorgensen is equally talented as an arranger, composer and bandleader. These skills combine to make a fine CD that is free of the stale mannerisms one hears in many young jazz artists.
, like his eariler CD, The Road Begins Here
(Origin), looks both forward and back, blending new original compositions with a few classics and unexpected covers.
Jorgensen has chosen music from a diverse range of sources for Quiet Silence, yet makes them fit seamlessly. By joining John Coltrane's "India," the Beatles' "Tomorrow Never Knows" and the textures of jazz-rock fusion, he astutely makes a case for fusion's rightful place of respect in the jazz continuum. Original compositions by Jorgensen, Matt Otto and Jeff McSpadden add to the forward thinking which is evident throughout the set.
The biggest surprise, however, is a startlingly direct and sincere reading of Burt Bacharach's "The Look of Love," No Austin Powers irony, no Diana Krall retrosterility, no hip deconstruction, just a beautiful arrangement played respectfully. Amazing.
The band makes it all sound easy. Pianist Marc Seales, heard exclusively on the Fender Rhodes keyboard, sounds like he cut his teeth on the instrument. Although the velvety electronics inevitably refer back to the instrument's heydey in the late '60s when Miles, Chick and others made definitive use of it, Seales' playing is so fresh and free of cliche that he makes one wish for a full-scale Fender Rhodes resurgence.
Phil Sparks shows why his is among Seattle's busiest bassists, providing his usual solid rhythmic foundation and tasty solos. His feature on Jorgensen's "Blessing" showscases his voice-like arco playing, which sounds like an urgent, wordless prayer. Utterly beautiful.
Equally compelling work is contributed by Rob Davis on tenor and Mark Taylor on also. These two share a chemistry that makes their playing -- individually and together -- sound of one voice, no doubt the result of a history that includes co-leading a Seattle band for several years and music studies at the University of Washington in the early '90s.
Credit Jorgensen for putting together a band with such simpatico. My significant other, after listening to the entire album on a relaxing Friday night, gave it perhaps its highest compliment. "It gave me good dreams," she said.
Often, the best music reaches the subconscious and becomes part of the inner soundtrack of life. Quiet Silence -- a most genuine and joyful recording -- does just that.