For the last couple of years I’ve been introduced to the Moonjune Records catalogue, which features amazing musicians & bands from around the world whose music offers high quality in the jazz / rock / experimental scene; music that without a doubt, should expand horizons. One of the latest artists I was introduced to is Mark Wingfield, who in 2014 recorded and released “Proof of Light”, a 9-track album in which Wingfield shares credits with Yaron Stavi on bass, and Asaf Sirkis on drums.
The album opens with “Mars Shaffron”, which shows a nice jazz rock (rockier than jazzier) where guitars put a kind of heavy sound which is complemented by drums and bass. After a minute, the music slows down a bit and now the jazz side is much more evident, Wingfield’s guitar now produces endless different notes, but I can’t say it is a solo, no, it simply gives power to the guitar and let it guide us. I like a lot the use of keyboards as background, and the great bass base during the whole track. All of a sudden, the second song entitled “Restless Mountain” begins. The mood seems to be alike the opener, but in moments it explodes and for a split second becomes heavier and faster, however, it always returns to a mid-tempo rhythm where guitar stands out. In moments, drums also explode and give us entertaining passages.
I am not sure if this might enter into the fusion realm, I would say no, I would describe it more like experimental jazz, maybe avant-garde where guitars are the main act, but are wonderfully complemented by bass, drums and keyboards. Honestly, it took me at least three listens to dig the album and found its pure beauty, which can be perceived in “The Way to Etretat”, a beautiful 7-minute song. It is a melodic tune, quite dreamy in moments, where bass delights us with a solo while drums are constant and in the right place.
The names of Allan Holdsworth or John Abercrombie might come to your head in some moments, I think Wingfield’s guitar sound has some reminiscences of those legendary guitar players, though of course, Mark produces his own and particular style. “A Conversation we Had” is the next track. Let me tell you that the album itself is like “a conversation”, because the style is pretty similar in all the songs, of course there are highs and lows, there are changes, but it has a unique essence; it is like having a 53-minute conversation with Mark Wingfield.
What I cannot deny, is that my enthusiasm towards that conversation was not in the same level during those 53 minutes; there were moments where I felt a bit bored (sorry, I can’t lie) and was expecting a surprise, something really different to light me up. “A Thousand Faces” is the shortest track, here the guitar makes constant soft changes, but in the end, I could not find the thousand faces after all.
On the other hand, “Voltaic” is the longest composition, the most powerful and my favorite of the album. Since the very first second we listen to an explosive sound, heavier tunes, fast moments, dramatic turbulences covered by a sensual jazz atmosphere. After a minute, it slows down, the wind blows and a kind of tense and doubting passage appears. I am not sure if this was an improvisation or a true composition, because the musicians seem to be free, seem to be enjoying their brief craziness. “Summer’s Night Story” has a juicy in moments delicious sound, but I sometimes feel Wingfield and the guys could add more power to the music, which is gentle and soft, but lacks of a persuasive element that make you feel caught and with no exit. I mean, it is not difficult to be distracted by another non-album sound, it is not difficult to skip the song, and it is too difficult to remember it.
Of course, this album and its songs are not memorable song, I think that is not the aim, but I would have loved to find that element that made me think of it as a unique release, as a work or art. “Koromo’s Tale” is a soft piece that starts with bass playing the main role, while drums and guitars produced softer sounds. Despite the bass is what most caught my attention here, it is evident that Wingfiled’s guitar is the official album’s guide. Finally, “Proof of Light” is another great song, one of the two or three I really loved. It is evident that to my likes, I prefer more the faster-heavier-rockier moments, and this last song is one of them.
A very good album, it is something different, nothing to do with the regular jazz album, which is great because it means the artist has something diverse to tell; however, I am not a devoted, and can’t qualify this album as a memorable one.