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Hit Couleurs JAZZ

Joel Ross is clearly the new darling when it comes to vibraphone. Called upon here and there as a sideman, he has also released four albums as a leader on the prestigious Blue Note label since 2019, the latest of which is, as its name partly suggests, devoted to blues and ballads.

Converted to the blues during the covid pandemic, where he resumed his studies at New York’s New School, the young musician wanted to confront this idiom with a band featuring other young instrumentalists who are familiar to him. The Chicagoan vibraphonist’s take on a style whose history goes back more than a century is not, therefore, backward-looking.

On the contrary, he proposes an approach that updates the codes and forms, with a strong emphasis on melody, as indicated by the titles of tracks such as “mellowdee” or “chant“.

On some tracks, for example, the band members refrain from any improvisation, contenting themselves with playing the melody and counterpoints on flute or alto sax and vibraphone.

In a majestic lyrical vein, for over two minutes, the vibraphone alone introduces the album’s title theme, “nublues” (no capital letter), before being joined by the rest of the band, who weave a sumptuous harmonic and rhythmic framework around the leader with the alto sax as the main solo voice.

In addition to his own themes, Ross also offers re-readings of pieces by John Coltrane and Thelonious Monk, which he reappropriates without nostalgia, and where his luminous tone and alert phrasing work wonders in his solos.

Joel Ross and his companions delve deep into the stylistic field of the blues, updating this timeless idiom in a remarkable and utterly convincing way.

Line up :

Joel Ross: vibraphone

Immanuel Wilkins: alto sax

Jeremy Corren: piano

Kanoa Mendenhall: bass

Jeremy Dutton: drums

Gabrielle Garo: flute

nublues” is a Hit Couleurs Jazz. It was released by Blue Note / UMG Recordings on February 9, 2024

©Photo Header by Bruce Bennett.


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