Joel Ross – “nublues”

Vibraphonist Joel Ross releases his fourth Blue Note album “nublues” this Friday. We’re still playing his last one, “The Parable Of The Poet”, from 2022. Once again, alto saxophonist Immanuel Wilkins is on board like on all his previous records. Plus Jeremy Corren (piano), Kanoa Mendenhall (bass), and Jeremy Dutton (drums), and special guest Gabrielle Garo on flute. As the title suggests, this is all about the blues, but not in the traditional form, nothing dusty or old-fashioned, but rather highly imaginative and intuitive. Bold and demanding, like on “Mellowdee”, the album’s longest track clocking in at over 11 minutes. It’s sort of a suite within the collection here. Crying and wailing tones from Immanuel. Chapters of calmness and upheaval are juxtaposed within.

Joel Ross "nublues"

When flutist Gabrielle chimes in on “Chant”, the whole experience almost veers towards a chamber-like entity. John Coltrane’s “Equinox” has Joel floating on his instrument. But you rarely have the feeling that this is the leader trying to stay on top of all things, but rather the group effort seems to be the main focus here. Yes, there are solos of course, but never intended to keep you away from the overall ambiance. But when he does solo, like on this Coltrane epic, he clearly shines, still making room for the others to go along with him, rather than simply accompany. I really dig the slow ballad “What Am I Waiting For”. It slithers along poetically and is way too short. On “Bach (God The Father In Eternity)”, one of three tracks previously released from this album, piano and vibes state the beautiful melody at first which will then find its rousing crescendo and finale in the course of almost nine minutes in a majestic way.

Starting out with a ghostlike reverb, the title track has hints of the blues, playing around with its motives, but keeping the flow grippingly open. “Ya Know” with its bell-like entrance and repetitive pattern is a perfect motor for the storytelling way of saxophonist Wilkins before the leader takes over for another rousing solo with chaperoning drum work. The album closes with a wicked version of Monk’s “Evidence” and a pretty svelte version of one of Coltrane’s most beautiful compositions, the sweet and lovely “Central Park West”. The album will also be available on double vinyl.

04/09 Utrecht – Tivoli Vredenburg
04/10 Paris – New Morning
04/28 Stockholm – Fasching
07/13 Rotterdam – North Sea Jazz


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