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re:dawn (far from)
Jeremy Cunningham – Drums
Jeff Parker – Guitar
Josh Johnson – Alto saxophone
Matt Ulery – Bass
Dustin Laurenzi – Tenor saxophone
Andrew Toombs – Piano, keyboards
Drummer Jeremy Cunningham’s delightful debut as a leader, re: dawn (from far), is an elegant album that superbly balances deep traditional roots with stylish modernism. The music, mostly penned by Cunningham, is interpreted with refreshing originality and a subtle, yet poetic sense.
The opener “Bembé” brims with a primal spirituality and embellished Afro-Cuban beats. Cunningham’s vibrant drumming and bassist Matt Ulery’s complex and colorful lines build the tune’s intriguing framework. Saxophonist Josh Johnson laces the main theme with his fluid, undulating phrases while guitarist Jeff Parker forms the eloquent core around which all other performances coalesce.
Parker’s solo thrills with bluesy erudition on “Far From,” while guest pianist Andrew Toombs improvises with breathtaking agility. Both men exhibit sublime lyricism that matches Ulery’s warm, though elegiac turn in the spotlight. Johnson’s serpentine alto shimmers through the rumbling rhythms at the beginning head as well as at the moving conclusion.
On the melancholic and pastoral “Leaves Rain,” Johnson engages guest tenor saxophonist Dustin Laurenzi in a haunting duet that’s essentially two interwoven, contemplative monologues. Cunningham’s brushed drums and the darkly hued rhythmic percolations enhance the expectant atmosphere.
Cunningham exhibits his superb leadership skills on such absorbing pieces as the Eastern-flavored “Constituent” and the mystical “Visions.” On the former, individual expressions flow into one another with seamless camaraderie as Cunningham’s suave polyrhythms serve as the propulsive driving force behind it all. The latter is an intricate harmonic tapestry without gracefully overlapping instrumental voices. Cunningham directs the unique expressiveness of his bandmates to form a gripping, stimulating chorus of distinctive sounds that eschews both cacophony and uniformity.
This charming and provocative record is a solid freshman effort and a robust, energetic career-starter. If Cunningham maintains this momentum he is assured a brilliant professional future as he evolves and matures as a musician.