John Carroll Kirby – Septet (2021) [FLAC 24bit/48kHz]

John Carroll Kirby – Septet (2021)
FLAC (tracks) 24 bit/48 kHz | Time – 46:33 minutes | 524 MB | Genre: Jazz
Studio Masters, Official Digital Download | Front Cover | © Stones Throw

John Carroll Kirby returns with Septet, a live instrumental album. Septet sees the widely acclaimed keyboardist and composer lead a band to perform a new suite of works a la Herbie Hancock’s Head Hunters.

John Carroll Kirby’s earlier releases under his full name, starting in 2017 and extending to his pair of Stones Throw albums in 2020, are mostly solitary recordings evincing his flair for keyboard compositions that soothe and stimulate with little assistance. For his third Stones Throw offering Septet, he works in a setting that is actually more familiar to him, at least going by his vast session work from the aughts onward. While everything here was written and produced by Kirby, Septet was indeed cut by a group of seven, featuring Deantoni Parks (drums), David Leach (percussion), John Paul Maramba (bass), Nick Mancini (mallets), and Tracy Wannomae and Logan Hone (both on woodwinds). Some pieces advance the globetrotting instrumental avant-pop mode Kirby has explored on Travel and My Garden. Remarkably, the most effective moments in this vein occur when the leader assumes a background position, lending synthesizer shading and warped effects as mallets and flute link and skip at the fore of “P64 by My Side.” For the most part, this is a jazz date — an inviting and beatific one that frequently evokes classic ’70s jazz-funk. “Swallow Tail” is as delightfully lazing and lapping as Harvey Mason’s “Modaji.” Kirby’s synthesizer curlicues never detract from the easy groove. Maramba buoyantly kick-starts “Sensing Not Seeing” like it could be an update of Deodato’s “Skyscrapers,” but it settles into something more akin to Mwandishi-era Herbie Hancock, evoking lower flight over a forest, held aloft by Mancini’s ceaseless riffing. Kirby scarcely draws attention to himself, but when he does — most prominently on “Weep” and “The Quest of Chico Hamilton” — he induces facial expressions that are part grin, part grimace, all pleasure. At the proper end that precedes three bonus dub versions, “Nucleo (Boy from the Prebiotic Birth)” rides in on a low-slung polyrhythmic gallop with some of the players not so much taking solos as occasionally bubbling up from the mix. So idyllic is its effect that nobody could have been faulted for disregarding the vocal cue to stop. – Andy Kellman


1. Rainmaker (7:43)
2. P64 By My Side (4:12)
3. Sensing Not Seeing (5:33)
4. Swallow Tail (3:48)
5. Weep (4:49)
6. Jubilee Horns (7:01)
7. The Quest of Chico Hamilton (4:28)
8. Nucleo (Boy From The Prebiotic Birth) (9:02)