JERRY KALAF — Welcome to Earth (review)

JERRY KALAF — Welcome to Earth album cover Album · 2014 · Post Bop Buy this album from MMA partners
3.5/5 ·
js
“Welcome to Earth” is the fourth CD from drummer, arranger and composer, Jerry Kalaf, and it finds him working with three different groups that provide somewhat similar styles of music. The three different groups include two piano trios, and one sextet. The overall style of all three groups is modern post bop, with a slight ECM styled contemporary sound on the sextet. All of the songs were composed by Kalaf, and they all feature smart abstract open structures that give the soloists room to build their statements. Bill Evans is definitely an influence on here, you might also hear traces of Brad Mehldau and Keith Jarret as well.

All three of the groups featured on here are good, but possibly the most interesting is the trio led by pianist Leonard Thompson. Leonard shows the Bill Evans influence, but also a little more rhythmic approach along the lines of Herbie Hancock’s “Speak Like a Child”. The sextet features Doug Walter on sax and Barry Coates on guitar, their cool approach recalls artists such as Jan Garbarek and Jim Hall. The other trio is led by pianist Rich Ruttenberg, and their playing leans a bit towards a post bop/art pop crossover as they turn in a couple of melodic ballads.

The overall sound of “Welcome to Earth” leans toward the ‘cool’ side of things, with the Leonard Thompson trio being the most heated of the three groups. If there is one small complaint with this CD, it has to do with the volume mix. If I did not already know that this was the drummer’s CD, I would have been able to guess, because Kalaf is up just a tad too high in the mix. It’s a small matter, and I suppose if you were a fan of Kalaf’s subtle percussion work, you may want to hear every little nuance. Overall, this is a solid CD for fans of post bop, but for my money, I wouldn’t mind hearing a whole CD with just the Leonard Thompson group.
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