Written by Fumo Verde
Bruce Hornsby is back and his range has expanded. He has made a fantastic career of blending musical genres, such as jazz, bluegrass, and folk, into his own distinct kind of blue-collar rock n’ roll sound. Camp Meeting is a serious jazz album with a wide variety of compositions that include jams from Monk, Miles, and Trane. Along with Christian McBride on bass and Jack DeJohnette on drums, two highly accomplished jazz musicians themselves, Camp Meeting proves beyond any doubt the talent of these three men.
I have to start with the first track “Questions and Answers.” Composed by Ornette Coleman but never released, the trio brings it to life as a quick and chipper tune that pounces about. Jumbling and almost unorganized, the music opens up as the piano zips amongst the scales while bass and drum push the tempo along firing away like a six-cylinder engine. This is followed by “Charles, Woody, and You,” (a Hornsby-Charles Ives composition) which has a backbeat that sounds like Miles’ Kind of Blue, yet it contains a sporadic Charles Mingus charm.
“Solar” follows, and on this track Miles would be proud. It shows how well these men have honed in their talents. Be it Hornsby’s effortless dance with the keys or McBride’s stroll along his bass chords, the solos reflect the hard work and effort these guys put into this CD. DeJohnette rips into a drum solo that finishes off with cymbal shots that boost the energy this trio puts out.
“Camp Meeting” the title track, has a rock rhythm to it. McBride’s bass seems to swing about as DeJohnette drives the beat and Hornsby’s piano tells the tale. This is an original by Hornsby and if anyone has ever had doubts about his ability to compose jazz, this track will put them to rest. But he isn’t the only master musician here and he would be the first to point that out.
Christian McBride is the son of the great jazz bassist Lee Smith and his uncle is Howard Cooper, another amazing jazz bassist. McBride has played with a wide range of people that include Chick Correa, Herbie Hancock, Diana Krall, and James Brown. In 2000 he fronted his own band called the Christian McBride Band. Jack DeJohnette has a resume a mile long too, and it includes artists such as Keith Jarrett, whose composition “Death and Flowers” is the fourth track on the album. It has a delicate piano solo that captures the grace and spirit of what true artistry really is. Both DeJohnette and McBride have made their names in the world of jazz and bringing their talents together was a great idea. Hornsby knows how to surround himself with incredible musicians and “Camp Meeting” isn’t any different.
Whether it’s the improvised style of Monk or the genuine soul of Miles or the swinging structure of Coltrane, the trio tries to capture it all in eleven tracks, and they do a pretty damn good job. Anyone with an ear for jazz will enjoy this CD as it ranges the jazz spectrum. Camp Meeting brings all the ideas together, and what great ideas they are.