For Gerald Clayton, the gap between old-school stride piano and 21st-century neo-soul rhythms is no gap at all. While performing Monday at Kuumbwa Jazz Center in Santa Cruz, he would relax into one, and then flow straight into the other — a century of rhythmic information, from Teddy Wilson to D'Angelo, echoing through his introduction to "If I Were a Bell," the old standard.
For the best young jazz musicians — Clayton is 26 — the music's long history isn't a stumbling block to expression. It's just a reality, a source of connections. It gets complicated, but the sorting-out process happens over time for a working band like Clayton's. It's "a trio of close friends," he told the audience. "These guys pretty much read my mind."
Earlier in the evening, on Clayton's tune "3-D," the mind readers began very quietly: stretched out, minimalist lines from acoustic bassist Joe Sanders, again referencing neo-soul and hip-hop; lots of dancing definition from drummer Justin Brown, slipping in and out of multiple tempos; Clayton dropping little neural explosions into the mix with his own tangling and untangling lines. And then, stealthily, a groove emerged, a through-line, pulsing out of that big, heady mix of information: three dimensions had been focused down to one.
Much of the time, the band felt like the meeting place of two worlds: mid-'60s Miles Davis filtered through the lens of neo-soul. That made for a spacious and trippy
brew, the musicians like dancers in a very large room, circling each other — feinting and parrying, at times moving, it seemed, in opposition to one another. More...
Post a Comment