Justin Vasquez, Triptych: Saxophonist Justin Vasquez’s powerful debut leaves me at a loss for words. First off, Vasquez must be commended for putting together an all-star team of jazz hands – Aaron Parks (Piano), Adam Rogers (Guitars), Orlando Le Fleming (Bass), Clarence Penn (Drums), Gregoire Maret (Harmonica) and Gretchen Parlato (Vocals) – all of whom bring their A-game and take you on an astonishing journey that disregards conventional contemporary jazz.
Some jazz artists are too mild in their arrangements, while others can turn their experimentation into pure chaos. Vasquez pulls off a solid mixture of both that results in a catchy, pop listen, while forcing you to pay attention to the little nuances and subtleties that he and his band have laid down.
Opening with the title track, the band quickly mesmerizes as a frenzied piano lick segues into Parlato’s gorgeous harmonies, which continues to dance along with the whole vibe of the song. Halfway through the track, it gets dark and sinister; surprisingly the track ends in an epic climax. “Fields” is another instant highlight, with its beautiful narrative that focuses on an emotional build-up around a bobbing horn melody that will have you humming for the rest of the week.
With this being only the first of a trio of albums – Triptych II being an electric album and Triptych III a mix of both styles – Vasquez is already in the front of the class of new jazz artists, ready to take the whole genre to a new playing style. (Triptych Works)