Recent publicity suggests that Donald Edwards may now be at the pinnacle of his compositional and percussionist powers. That remains to be seen. He will, in all probability, scale much greater heights in the future. But even if he never achieves anything better than this album ne has ample reason to be proud.
The opener, ‘Taking Shape’, is a joyous, dancing piece which engages you. It is followed by ‘Incantation’, a slightly mysterious ballad edged with a rueful feel. And then that track is immediately followed by ‘Hop Scotch’, a magnificent collision of drums, bass and harmonic voices led by the worldly colours of Nicholas Payton’s organ, together making a piece of cinematic quality, launching into a broodingly percussive tumbling groove, before thundering into loose funky groove. And on and on until we get to ‘Prelude to Real Life’ which summons a gamelan-like riff played in Edwards’ inimitable, tuneful style. This features a thoughtful melodic break by Donald Edwards as does ‘Skippy’ which reminds me of a little of the late, great Max Roach and his work on exquisitely tuned drums.
Donald Edwards continues to ring in the changes in mood, structure and tempo, making for a constantly changing and ever interesting programme. The considerable degree of balance and integration of melody, harmony and rhythm, of composition and improvisation, of exploration, individuality and tradition is impressively maintained throughout. Although all of the pieces develop from beguiling, elegant melodies, what makes them so special is Donald Edwards’ way with arresting textures and colours. He could make you hear the music inside the music seemingly to infinity.
Track List: Taking Shape; Incantation; Hop Scotch; Apple Street; Way to Her; King; Queen and the Princess; Stablemates; Beautiful Intuition; Thought for the Day; Skippy; Prelude to Real Life.
Personnel: Donald Edwards: drums; Walter Smith III: tenor saxophone; David Gilmore: guitar; Orrin Evans: piano; Luques Curtis: bass; Nicholas Payton: Fender Rhodes, Piano, organ (1, 3, 5); Vivian Sessoms: vocals (3, 5, 10); Antoine Drye: trumpet (12).
Label: Criss Cross Jazz
Criss 1386 CD
Release date: February 2016
Running time: 1:07:12
Buy album on: amazon