Numerology: Live at Jazz Standard
It’s natural that musicians should be drawn to the mystical and spiritual meaning of numbers. After all, numbers are the building blocks in the harmonies and melodies, the rhythms, beats and duration of their art.
In the cover of this album, guitarist David Gilmore include quotes from Pythagoras, Einstein and Lao-Tzu. Within the CDs digits is his Numerology suite, played by him with vocalist Claudia Acuna, saxophonist Miguel Zenon, pianist Luis Perdomo, bassist Christian McBride, drummer Jeff “Tain” Watts and percussionist Mino Cinelu.
And just in case you thought a suite with this subject matter might sound rather dry and academic, or perhaps a little listener-unfriendly, a quick look at those names, and a reminder of Gilmore’s past playing as a sideman should reassure you.
These are players who entertain and educate simultaneously. The timing is tricky in places, the melodic sequences a little odd (in a nice way) and the harmonies likewise, but it’s all pretty funky, too, and played with such total commitment and energy.
That Gilmore has chosen to release this music as a live album recorded at the lovely mid-town Manhattan basement room of the Jazz Standard is also a tribute to the expertise of the musicians, who not only can play this complex stuff, but play it “out”. It feels like it’s really bedded down in live performance.
There are spaces for solos but they emerge naturally from the group playing and are busily supported by the rest of the band - it’s more like a player emerging from the ensemble rather than the soloist being the major focus. It’s a bit like African music in that regard.
The music also constantly flows and changes through the album in a constantly intriguing and exciting way. There are elements of minimalism in it, and this also reminds me a little of the kind of structures Steve Coleman works with. Not simple, certainly, but Gilmore and his band makes it simply great listening.