CD reviews

Lewis Wright & Matt Brewer & Marcus Gilmore – ‘The Colour of Intention’

Lewis Wright & Matt Brewer & Marcus Gilmore – The Colour of Intention (Signum Classics – SIGCD634. CD review by Graham Spry) Vibraphonist Lewis Wright is probably best known as being a member of Empirical since 2008. It has taken him quite some time to release his first album as band leader. The Colour of Intention was recorded in New York City in December 2019 when foreign travel was still possible. He was joined by two top-flight, New York-based musicians: Matt Brewer on double bass and Marcus Gilmore on drums. The music is tight and beautifully performed, and its title, The Colour of Intention, describes the process of composition and performance that motivated it. Lewis says: “In order to express yourself honestly in music, you have to generate clear intentions developed from thoughts and emotions which then colour the work rather than explaining every aspect of it.” That process determines the nature of the improvisations on the recording where the emphasis is less on technique and much more on the musicians’ personal response to the music at the moment of creation. This is not to downplay the musicians’ expertise and skill, notably Wright’s adept use of pedals and four mallets on the vibraphone. The album could be characterised as chamber jazz, perhaps in the lineage of the Modern Jazz Quartet, but Wright’s playing style is very much his own. The tunes are all composed by Wright with the exception of the final track, Monk’s Brilliant Corners. Wright acquits himself well in the first few bars that in the original recording famously nearly defeated Monk’s sidemen, including Sonny Rollins. Each of the titles of the first three tracks is illustrative of the tune: Mettle, with its distinctive ostinato figure, is a display of the trio’s musical skills, Recover lowers the tempo, and Resolve somehow brings the three first tracks to a resolution. Raise (For Z) is a quiet and meditative – Brewer, playing arco, sets that tone well. Les Lilas has a busy sound, propelled by the drums – possibly an evocation of the Paris suburb, and an interesting contrast with Wright’s more wistful, restrained online duet performance of the same tune during lockdown with violinist Zara Benyounes. The Colour of Intention is released on Signum, an independent British classical record label, which also released Wright’s Duets album in 2018 featuring his long-standing friend, ECM pianist, Kit Downes. Both albums are examples of contemporary jazz music that sit comfortably in a classical music catalogue without compromising its jazz chops.   LINK: Signum Classics website

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