(Astral Spirits, 2016)
It’s the people you need to win over – the masses, critical or otherwise, need a champion, someone or someones to seep their sound into the collective consciousness and convert the hearts, the minds of the people. Meet them where they are. Allow them to live with you a little bit, to acclimatize themselves to the salvation at hand.
Jazz salvation. The hearts and minds of the people will be won by none other than Hearts & Minds, a trio whose name inspired me to imagine a scenario where their music infiltrated the population and brought profound periods of ecstatic peace, periods of deep hope in creativity and wonder, all to the decidedly non–Woody Allen-esque bass clarinet playing of Jason Stein (yeah, I saw Wild Man Blues, and for some reason that’s all I think about when I think about jazz clarinet), the decidedly Chick Corea–esque keyboard and synthesizer slinging of Paul Giallorenzo, and the all-around skin-smacking spectacularity of Frank Rosaly. Equally at home blitzing through free jazz and fusion as they are at divining melody seemingly from the air itself, Stein, Giallorenzo, and Rosaly, long fixtures in the Chicago scene, add to the aura of their adopted home with their self-titled LP, a master class in technique and cohesion. I mean, these guys have been playing together for over eight years; they should be able to bounce ideas off each other before swatting them in crazy new directions. That’s what chemistry gets you.
Hearts & Minds displays that chemistry over its nine tracks, each trying to one-up the excitement of the one previous, the musicians clicking like out-of-this-world superpowered beings. At times smoky and laid back, at others frantic and resolute, Hearts & Minds nevertheless cram sticks of dynamite into anybody’s idea of staid jazz standardization, the resulting explosion covering all in earshot with sonic confetti. If that doesn’t brighten your day, I don’t know what will. I mean, c’mon – who doesn’t like to be blasted in the face with jazz confetti every once in a while? We all need to lighten up a little I think. Hearts and minds and such.
So is it time to break out your wallets and drop some cold, hard coin on these maestros? You’re dang straight it is – this bad boy is on sale from the good people at Astral Spirits/Monofonus Press, so you have absolutely no reason not to take advantage of this wonderful opportunity. Become one of the lucky who have had their perspectives altered for the better; change your whole outlook with one drop of the needle; bless your turntable with some sweet, sweet jamz.