Certainly the ongoing post bop revival has been great for jazz; smooth jazz is fading fast, fuzak is almost gone and play-by-numbers cookie cutter 80s fusion is dead. Current young post bop artists have raised the bar for what is expected of today’s jazz musician, both in terms of creativity and technique. Much of this new music is good, but what about the sly humor that was always a big part of jazz? Today’s post-bopper tends to be a bit dry and cerebral, but if you look at many of the greats in the past, a certain hip wit was a big part of their language. Parker had it, so did Ellington and Gillespie, and it all pretty much culminated into sometimes absurd levels with one Sonny Blount aka Sun Ra. The first time I listened to Iordache’s new CD “One Life Left”, I thought I heard a distinct Sun Ra influence. Turns out Iordache started out his career leading a Sun Ra cover band, needless to say he gets the humor and he brings this back to the world of jazz in very understated and clever ways. “One Life left” isn’t silly or glib at all, but it is very witty, cool and hip.
Iordache leads a seven piece band on here including himself and Lucian Nagy on woodwinds, plus trumpet, bass, drums and two guitars. Guitarist Toni Kuhn also doubles on a very funky analog sounding synthesizer too. The three horns, and sometimes flute, combine with the electronic guitars and keyboards to create instrumental textures that work perfectly with the music they play. Drawing upon elements of cool jazz, nu jazz, exotica and lounge funk, Iordache’s tone colors can sound like Herbie’s “Speak Like a Child”, Jagga Jazzist, Snarky Puppy, Henry Mancini, Gil Evans or Dolphy's "Hot Cool and Latin". “One Life Left” is new cool jazz for the 21st, with lots of odd quirky eccentricities to boot.
Some album highlights include “Peace” with its classic mid-90s trip-hop down tempo beat and lush vibratoed chords on the electric piano, and “Suriname” which opens with smooth horn orchestrations backing an exotic synth melody that recalls the old Don Ellis experimental big band. This is a very creative and well executed album. To the serious post bop fan this CD may seem a little light, but these players are not light weight at all, they just prefer to keep their cool, with their tongues planted in cheek.