Oct 5 2015
A New Kind of Dance is going back to the old neighborhood. It’s revisiting the old times in the days when they were new. It’s when hard bop and avant-garde weren’t separate schools of thought and when the horizon lines of each-both seemed endless. This is Jackie McLean’s New & Old Gospel, but it goes down smoother and it’s preaching to the choir today with a new kind of bop. This isn’t the first time drummer Mike Reed’s People Places & Things quartet have attempted a convergence of past and present, but it’s an easy argument to make that it represents their best.
The easy swing of “Reesie’s Waltz” is a ballad that’s all heart, and when its structure breaks down and its volatility shoots straight up, Reed reminds us that a heart in love can just as easily become a conflagration of emotions not so easily encapsulated by the soft touch of a beautiful melody.
The phasing in and out of structure, shape and direction is applied generously throughout the recording, and each time to wonderful effect. The frenzied combinations that lead out on “Candyland” sing a joyful tune, happy as can be. And when the song begins to tumble and twirl in directions the opening melody never hinted at, the prevailing sense of wild abandon and unrelenting fun eclipse the tumultuous passages and provide a sense of cohesion as if nothing is at all out of sorts.
This deft ability to direct even the craziest notion of motion is put to excellent use on the get up and shout gospel of title-track “A New Kind of Dance,” charging forward with speed and intensity, yet in possession of the flowing motion of one long, fluid breath. They apply a subtler touch on “Jackie’s Tune,” which is either your soundtrack for a casual afternoon stroll through the park or late night cool at the bar. “Wonderland” scales things down even further, but its untamed nuance makes it much more difficult to map out.
That the group can park a rendition of Strayhorn & Ellington’s “Star Crossed Lovers” right up against the fender of Mos Def’s “Fear Not of Man” and it all sounds like the same heartbeat from the same era, either or both, is the clinching proof of the album’s success.
I already liked Mike Reed’s music, but this album just blows me away. New-school jazz fans will love the album’s sense of irreverence while swimming the sea of tradition. Old-school fans who pine for the inside-out era are going to go crazy for this recording. Go buy it. You can’t go wrong with this one.
Your album personnel: Mike Reed (drums), Greg Ward (alto sax), Tim Haldeman (tenor sax), Jason Roebke (bass) and guests: Marquis Hill (trumpet) and Matthew Shipp (piano).
Released on 482 Music.
Jazz from the Chicago scene.