auto-inserted 09-17-2014 15:56:46
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Joe Gilman is a young and experienced jazz pianist whose brilliance is unquestioned, and whose taste level is refined within the modern mainstream progressive aesthetic. While never a chart topper of critic's darling, he in fact should be, based on his sheer talent and ability to craft new shapes and sounds out of established pop or jazz material. This second volume of modifications on the music of Stevie Wonder continues Gilman's path of self-discovery and intrigue, turning 14K tunes into solid gold. What distinguishes these alterations is their utter departure from the original melodies, as Gilman makes them his own in no uncertain terms. The two most famous tunes are "You & I" and "Another Star," the former a relatively recognizable deeply romantic ballad, and the latter an unexpected fleet and dynamic hard bop version à la McCoy Tyner. Gilman loves to employ tricky meter switch-ups, in tiptoe time from 7/8 to 5/4 on "Whereabouts," shifting complex and modern 5/4 to simplified and breezy 6/8 during "Knocks Me Off My Feet," and doling out large portions of free time, quirky and playful chunks of light and heavy rhythm changes on the hard bop based "Contusion." Gilman uses bouncy, quaint, and swinging chords opposite the response of bassist Joe Sanders on "Cryin' Through the Night," employs a similar reverberation in reverent, restrained, and heavier chord definitions or contours during "Easy Goin' Evening," and straightens the course during a samba infused "Bird of Beauty." Drummer Justin Brown is up to the task on all of these adaptations, steadily navigating the cleverest rhythms during the long spirit song "Don't Know Why I Love You," and establishing a contemporary loping bluesy pace à la Vernell Fournier of Ahmad Jamal's bands for "As If You Read My Mind." This is a solid effort that proudly stands alongside the first volume of Gilman's previous tribute to Motown's pop icon, as well as the pianist's 2003 tribute to Dave Brubeck. It is also one of the better jazz recordings of 2008, well worth your while whether you are a piano fan, neo-bop lover, or enjoy your pop music with an energized, direct, straight-ahead infusion.