Will Vinson: alto and soprano saxophones; Mike Moreno: guitar; Gonzalo Rubalcaba: piano, Fender Rhodes, synth; Matt Penman: bass; Jeff Ballard: drums; + guests.
Originally from London, the saxophonist Will Vinson is a frequent presence in the fervent NY jazz clubs like the Smalls, where he recorded a live album in 2012 with a quintet that included the guitarist Lage Lund, pianist Aaron Parks, bassist Matt Brewer, and drummer Marcus Gilmore.
For his latest release, “Perfectly Out of Place”, Vinson not only convenes a new quintet, but also extends it by adding a few guests for the strings, vocals, and percussion. The cats that follow him are also respected bandleaders such as Mike Moreno on guitars, Gonzalo Rubalcaba on keys, Matt Penman on bass, and Jeff Ballard on drums.
“Desolated Tango”, which could perfectly fit in Charles Lloyd’s world-jazz repertoire, opens the doors, carrying a good amount of nostalgia and sadness at its core. Feeling like a ballad, this isn’t the only composition that invites us to sail in pacific waters. Also “Willoughby General”, featuring colorful solos by Penman and Moreno, “Limp of Faith”, in which Rubalcaba’s piano work emphasizes the initial lugubrious undertones set by sax and strings, and “Chalk It Up”, a beautiful exercise on breathing and relaxation, are tender ballads.
Looking to attain balance among paces and moods, the quintet boasts a provocative Latin groove in “Skyrider” where strings, percussion, and especially the voice of Jo Lawry, entangled in complex phrasings delivered in unison with the sax and the guitar, contribute heavily to the impactful outcome.
Controlled chunks of funk-rock build up the straight-ahead piece “Stiltskin (Some Drunk Funk)”, while the last couple of tunes, “The Clock Killer”, retrieved from “Live at Smalls”, and the title-track, got me impressed due to Vinson’s giddy improvisational aptitudes.
This is a mature record that transpires emotional warmth. It was capable of establishing a mutual perception among the bandmates, authenticating Vinson as an accomplished composer and bandleader, in addition to the valuable sideman he has been all these years.
01 – Desolation Tango ► 04 – Skyrider ► 09 – The Clock Killer