It sometimes astounds me, when I hear local musicians whose talent is world class, and yet they are perhaps not very well known outside the boundaries of Chicago, although they should be. Case in point is pianist/composer Kelly Brand, who is known to the jazz fans of Chicago, but deserves a much wider audience based on her stellar playing and composition skills. If there is any justice in the world, her new nextet recording "The Door" will open the door to a wider audience.
This recording has been in heavy rotation in my cd player since I received it and I am confident that the wonderful brand of straight ahead jazz contained on the recording will please listeners looking for new jazz that still feels comfortable with the great jazz music of the past. Backed by an exceptional group, including: brilliant trumpeter Art Davis, outstanding reedman Geof Bradfield, husband and stellar bassist Kelly Sill and the emerging and energetic young drummer Jon Deitmyer (check out his work with the James Davis Quintet and Matt Ulery's Loom ensemble as well), Brand presents nine exceptional originals noted for their mature and pleasant arrangements, along with a superb reworking of Wayne Shorter's "Night Dreamer." The latter piece also features lovely vocals by Mari Anne Jayme to catchy lyrics by the ultra talent Ms. Brand, and has been walzing through my head for weeks.
But there is so much to choose from on this engaging album. "Ding Song," "The Tides" "Try Silence," "Bitter Blew the Winds of March," "Number Nine," "I'll Take You There," and "Show Me the Door" allow the band to stretch on exciting modern straight forward numbers. The rhythm section of Sill and Deitmyer is rock solid in support and add tasteful solo turns, while front liners Bradfield and Davis entertain with thrilling solos of their own. Brand herself centers things melodically, and her solos simply drip with hints of past great jazz pianists filtered through her own personality. Overall, the sound produced by this group is one that has usually only been achieved by our favorite classic combos of the past. Old favorite, "An Old Road" is revisited with vocals, while "The Question" features beautiful cello playing by Brand and Sill's lovely and talented daughter Naomi on this romantic Latin-flavored tune. Obviously the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.
"The Door" is one of my personal favorite albums of this year and I highly recommend it to listeners who enjoy intelligent and mature jazz compositions played by sensitive and skillful musicians.
Kelly is appearing with her trio at Pop's for Champagne Thursday nights all this month