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Music Review: Geoff Vidal – She Likes That

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Geoff Vidal’s debut recording from 2010 is all about energy. She Likes That features the work of young musicians playing assertively, generating an emphatic document about jazz’s new generation.

Vidal, the Brooklyn-based saxophonist and composer, is joined by Chicago drummer Makaya McCraven, guitarist Joe Hundertmark, and bassist Michael O’Brien. Trumpeter Tatum Greenblatt joins in the fun on three tracks.

What we have with She Likes That is a record that refuses to be put behind glass. Vidal’s album doesn’t sentence itself to the narcissistic inclination of much of “modern” jazz to exist away from the joie de vivre of the streets and the people. Instead, it demonstrates commitment to openness through a blistering interpretation of many musical traditions.

This happy lean away from the all-too-common pretentiousness of jazz survives in every blaze of guitar from Hundertmark and every blast from Vidal’s saxophone. It floods the grooves of the snug rhythm section.

Take “O-Zoning” as a prime piece of evidence. Vidal and Greenblatt are at centre stage with their phrasing, but it’s the slick dance groove of O’Brien and McCraven that really gives the song its pulsing drive. There are nuggets of funk, R&B and even rock to be found under the roof. Hundertmark’s riffing is off the page.

“This record is kind of special, given that everybody’s in different locations now,” says Vidal. “We had been playing together so long, I finally had to take the opportunity to document what we’ve developed. We all play so many different styles and we bring all that in whenever we get together. The album is under my name, but it’s really a band project and I couldn’t be happier with how we played.”

That band project soars on tracks like the guitar-soaked “Different Planes,” with its perfect horn and groove exchange, and “Lanusa.” On the latter, the young cats demonstrate emotional range and patience with every note.

Vidal, who became infatuated with the likes of Stan Getz at an early age, is a clearly gifted player with scads of potential. His vision for jazz is invigorating, youthful and lively, providing the necessary incentive for expanding and working to a comprehensive musical understanding. Jazz isn’t dead or chained to history. It is vividly and devastatingly now!

She Likes That is an exciting entry in the field of young jazz, happily demonstrating that there’s still an awful lot of ground to be covered.

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