Thursday, August 06, 2015

Bob James & Nathan East Team Up On "The New Cool"

Albums just aren't made like the way "The New Cool" was made.  Yamaha Entertainment Group label president Chris Gero put legendary keyboardist Bob James and master bassist Nathan East in the recording studio, equipped them with state-of-the art Yamaha gear and gave them free reign to create.  Recorded entirely in Nashville, the long-time collaborators emerged with an unexpected and audacious collection of original compositions plus a few handpicked classics, an acoustic jazz outing that will make you forget everything you thought you knew about these Grammy-recognized artists best know as contemporary jazz luminaries.  The disc produced by Gero, James, and East will be released September 18.  

"The New Cool" unfolds much in the way the meticulously-crafted project was conceived.  The germ begins organically with a couple of intimate James and East duets.  Pastoral piano wanderings explore the outer perimeter of straight-ahead jazz where they peruse, mirror and engage with meandering bass lines.  In fact, more than half of the record's compositions written by James and/or East are sparsely-produced, probing piano and bass sojourns.  As the seed sprouts, dramatic orchestral accoutrements added by the Nashville Recording Orchestra illuminate the piano, keyboard and bass explorations, contributing hues that are warmly rustic and autumnal or whimsically vibrant.  James challenges with deftly inventive arrangements on complex pieces like "All Will Be Revealed" while East counts off supple rhythms that are astutely measured and metered.  Fluid melodies and harmonies ranging from subtle, serene and meditative to lush exquisite and cascading blossom throughout, whether emoted by a dexterous piano, keyboard or bass or east's celestial vocalese.  An imaginatively-arranged version of Willie Nelson's "Crazy" bops and swings in sublimely surprising style before the ultimate surprise is revealed: a serendipitous vocal from Vince Gill.  The proceedings flourish in a gust of breezy Brazilian jazz when percussionist Rafael Padilla and drummer Scott Williamson appear on "Canto Y La Danza" and  climax in a crashing crescendo on the explosive and intricately orchestrated "Turbulance."

'The New Cool" project carries with it a special level of excitement for me as Bob and I have been courting the idea of this duo adventure for many years," said East, who released his self-titled Grammy-nominated solos debut album last year via Yamaha Entertainment Group on the heels of playing on Daft Punk's 2014 Grammy-winning Record of the Year "Get Lucky."  I've always loved the  sound of the piano and bass together, and have enjoyed duo recordings by the greats: Bill Evans & Eddie Gomez and Keith Jarrett & Charlie Haden.  "The New Cool" is our celebration of more than 25 years of friendship and musical camaraderie. 

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