MATT GORDY — Be With Me (review)

MATT GORDY — Be With Me album cover Album · 2022 · Post Bop Buy this album from MMA partners
3.5/5 ·
Some jazz albums impress us with their extreme heat and energy, while there are others that go a different route and impress with how carefully everything is placed and just how ‘right’ the album sounds. Miles’ “Birth of the Cool” and Herbie’s “Speak Like a Child” are two albums that come to mind where everything just seems to fit and nothing extra is needed. Matt Gordy’s new album, “Be With Me” is another one of those albums where the players practice good taste and interplay and present music that hits a perfect balance. “Be With Me” also bears a resemblance to the other two albums in that it features a three piece horn section that adds colors to arrangements, much like a miniature big band. Matt is a drummer, but he also has classical level skills on the piano which he uses in arranging his tunes. Gordy is an in demand session drummer on the west coast so he rarely records as a leader, in fact this is his first album as a leader in over 20 years.

One of the best cuts happens at the very beginning as the band digs into the bebop of “Topsy”. This number is from the Count Basie songbook and its slinky noire chord changes recall the whole Basie/Ellington era, only played with a modern sensibility. There are more tracks on here that carry that minor key classic urban jazz-noire vibe, one of the best is the band’s excellent arrangement of Mal Waldron’s “Soul Eyes”, which references and quotes from the McCoy Tyner version of this well known song. Another top track is the Gordy original, “Camouflage”, which has pianist Alan Pasqua spinning an interesting and economical solo while backed by the horn arrangements. Once again, I am reminded of the aforementioned Herbie Hancock album. All of the soloists on here are excellent, but I think its Pasqua who really gets the flavor of this album and never gives into needless flash or histrionics. Two tracks feature vocalist Sherry Williams, who does a great job on "Sunny" and the original, "Be With Me". This is a great album for jazz fans, but because of its careful focus, it is also one of those albums that could appeal to those who don’t normally dig the jazz scene.

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