Best of 2019 #44: Joel Ross – “KingMaker”


It was just a few years ago that I was catching Joel Ross perform on the Young Lions stage at the Chicago Jazz Festival.  This, after the previous night, when he was a featured soloist for Orbert Davis’s festival opening performance.  It was a great show, and he and his band ripped through some tunes, whispered out a ballad, and basically reminded everyone around how high the talent level is for jazz musicians still in the nascent stage of their evolution.  It is bewildering but also not surprising at all to be writing about his debut as part of the Best of 2019 countdown.  The spirit of that Chicago Jazz Festival performance is captured in Kingmaker, and its bolstered by a few years of growth manifesting as some very thoughtful composing.  Ross also wrote these songs about different people and events in his life to date, an attempt at encapsulating the influences that led him to this point.  For most of us, however, this album is all about the future, and how much we have to look forward to as the vibraphonist continues to evolve and record and delight.

Your album personnel:  Joel Ross (vibraphone), Immanuel Wilkins (alto saxophone), Jeremy Corren (piano), Ben Tiberio (bass), Jeremy Dutton (drums), and guest: Gretchen Parlato (vocals)

Released on Blue Note Records.

Music from New York City.

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