Label/Year: Corner Store Jazz, 2017
Lineup - Jim Yanda: guitar; Drew Gress: bass; Phil Haynes: drums.
Guitarist Jim Yanda, an Iowa native whose career was partially built in Chicago, and his brave trio composed of bassist Drew Gress and drummer Phil Haynes, set off on a musical adventure that combines jazz and blues traditions with a modern flare.
The trio had already hooked up in the Americana-influenced Free Country project led by the drummer while Gress and Haynes, forming a pliable rhythm section, were precious in a couple of records from German reedist Gebhard Ullmann. Besides Home Road, the double-disc album in analysis, which works as a recipient for newly-recorded music, Yanda is also releasing Regional Cookin’, an old recording from 1987 that never saw the daylight and features the same peers. Both records are coming out on Haynes’ Corner Store Jazz label.
Opening disc one, “My Ship” is a beautiful song written by Kurt Weill and Ira Gershwin for the 1941 Broadway musical Lady in the Dark. Etched by Yanda’s serene guitar and moving with plenty of space, the trio employs sweet and mellow tones.
Several songs are deeply rooted in the blues, cases of “In-Source”, in which Yanda and Gress trade fours with the drummer after their respective solos, “Blulious”, the album’s closing tune, and “Country Mother”, a mutable, swinging piece that flourishes with a contemporary feeling and smiling affirmation.
The relaxing moods of “Sundog”, where we hear the guitarist fingerpicking with propinquity and the bassist creating amenable melodies, together with the reflective tranquility of the title track, help to balance paces.
“Ghosthood” is perhaps the most provocative tune with its ghostly effects drawn from Yanda’s steel guitar and Haynes’ cymbals chatter, after which it acquires a titillating percussive flow.
“Earth Way” showcases the excellence of Haynes’ drumming and features fluid improvisations by Gress and the bandleader.
The easy-listening Home Road arrives with genuine moments of individuality and interplay. Those with an inclination for tradition will find here some interesting ideas well adapted to the current times.
04 (cd1) – Sundog ► 05 (cd1) – Ghosthood ► 01 (cd2) – Earth Way