AN INCREDIBLE MUSICAL THOUGHT...
I heard a rough mix of "Only One", John Jordan's new album with Chris Duarte and Barry "Frosty" Smith, and it is an astonishing recording! It was recorded over 2 nights (May 24-25) at World Axis Studio in Austin, Texas. John mastered it himself at Terra Nova Digital Audio on 9/1. John has done everything on this album: composing, conducting, producing, mixing, artwork, everything! I talked to John on the phone right after the album was recorded and asked him how it went. He said, "I'll put it to you this way: I brought a pound of French Roast to the sessions and didn't even make one pot!" (If you know John, you know what an amazing statement this is!!!!!) Chris and John are both happy with the way it came out. John was deeply honored to have been able to record with Frosty and has always wanted to record with him ever since becoming a musician. John said it was a liberating experience for them all - none of them had ever been just let loose like this before. John has been thinking about this project for several years. All of the compositions on the record were written by him, five in all, and are connected to each other by brief solo interludes. The album is entirely instrumental and is very difficult to describe without sounding like a blithering idiot! Delicate, explosive, introspective, raging, smooth, jagged, shimmering - each time you listen to it is different than before (see what I mean?). It's best to not think in musical terms or structure when listening to "Only One". Instead, disconnect your frontal lobes so you can appreciate free-form. Let it flow over you like a breeze, soak into you like the sun, and crush you flat like Godzilla's foot! It's a Frosty record. It's a Chris Duarte record. It's a John Jordan record. It's a trio of seasoned musicians with wonderful intuition and depth that have created "Only One". It's such a breath of fresh air and will show most of you a side of these musicians that you've never witnessed. It is improv at its best and most pure. Improv and intuition are key to what John was trying to capture with "Only One". In the name of spontaneity, John purposely gave the charts of the songs to Chris and Frosty just a few days before the recording dates. He wanted this project to be "of the moment". Listening to it there are parts where it's so tight it sounds like they've rehearsed for months. Running throughout the entire recording is an ever-shifting interplay between the three, they are really listening and responding to each other intently. An ongoing musical conversation throughout. Frosty's playing is brilliant. Chris is just unbelievable. The first night John walked them through the arrangements at a piano and on his bass. John utilized Chris as a horn player, not as a guitar player. Chris's background in jazz really shows in his timing and phrasing. John plays most of the chords. John said, "We're not jazz musicians, but we're driven by the jazz spirit." He said they did not think of endings or how long a cut must be, it was completely open-ended. The form becomes an emotion, not a structure. Intuition is all there is, listening intently, playing unfamiliar material and the excitement of not having played together in a long time = improv and spontaneity. The track list for "Only One" is as follows:
Prologue: Mr. Jordan / Coltrane Suite: Prayer-Dance-Mother Blues / Interlude: Mr. Smith / City Driver / Interlude: Mr. Jordan / Only One / Interlude: Mr. Duarte / Gil Evans / Free-Amazing Grace
John said they rehearsed the 3-song "Coltrane Suite" about 5 or 6 times the first night. "Mother Blues" was the hardest part. They recorded it ten times, each time Chris or Frosty kept messin' with it until it finally ends with two bars of insanity by those two. It starts out meditational and builds into a rhythm, eventually changing into total free-form abandon! Frosty's tasty interlude helps set up the next tune, "City Driver". The Chris Duarte Group played this song once at The Zoo Bar when Frosty was in the band years ago. "City Driver" is a song John wrote as a tribute to Chris Duarte and his skills in driving in the city. In this song, Frosty represents the tough city and John is the van chugging down the city streets. Chris is the driver and reacts to whatever the city throws at him. John changes speed by tightening up repetitions and changing them. This song really moves! John then sets the tone for "Only One" - a tribute to Jimi Hendrix. Played with ESM (extreme strat manipulation), this is the only song Chris plays his '63 strat on. The rest of the album he plays his Epiphone. Playing with a Marshall and pedals, Chris flows in and out of the ether, all the time Jimi's spirit hovering in the background. It is such a soulful take. So perfectly executed that John pronounced it done after the first take! Only one take was recorded of it. Chris's interlude, a moody piece, segues into "Gil Evans". A drum march with Spanish overtones, shades of "Porgy and Bess" and "Sketches of Spain", Gil Evans with Miles Davis. Wow! (Interesting having Gil Evans follow a tribute to Jimi, Gil Evans was one of the very first in the jazz community to appreciate Jimi Hendrix's talent, later doing a show in Carnegie Hall of all-Hendrix material). From "Gil Evans" the music shifts into "Free/Amazing Grace", a song that John dreamt. It is a beautiful, free-flowing song. Well, I've blathered on long enough. Needless to say, this is a very special recording, one that could not have been made by a record company - and it will blow you away!!! Write your thoughts about this amazing recording and see if you don't come off sounding as flipped-out as me! I'd like to know whatcha' think!