Jason Palmer ‘Rhyme and Reason’ 2CD (Giant Step Arts) 3/5

Trumpeter Jason Palmer is joined by drummer Kendrick Scott, saxophonist Mark Turner [tenor] and bassist Matt Brewer on his latest album ‘Rhyme and Reason’; his debut through Giant Step Arts, a non profit organisation set up by New York based Jimmy Katz; a noted photographer who has worked with many of the great jazz musicians. Under the umbrella of this inspiring new programme set up in 2018, the artists are given complete control over their music and supported throughout the process of bringing an album to fruition. The Giant Step Arts seems a very timely and an important collective response to the commercial pressures that can be sometimes placed upon musicians.

Jason Palmer cites Clifford Brown as an early influence and a prominent inspiration for his early development, and one of the sparks that kick started his career in both playing and teaching; check Clifford Brown’s album ‘Study In Brown’, a classic album from 1955 which features an early catalyst track for Palmer, ‘Cherokee’. After two years on the road with Greg Osby, a time of great importance for his progressing career, Jason Palmer took on a leading role as well as subsequent collaborations with such luminaires as Herbie Hancock, Roy Haynes, Jimmy Smith and Wynton Marsalis and many of the younger musicians who have continually stretched the boundaries within and around the contemporary jazz movement. He also appeared in a leading role on Damien Chazzelle’s film ‘Guy and Madeleine On A Park Bench’; and narrowly missed out on the directors more well-known ‘La La Land’ due to commitments.

On ‘Rhyme and Reason’, trumpeter Jason Palmer brings together a stellar group of musicians who converse in a way that is warm whilst tempered with dextrous woven interplay that captures the imagination and give the listener space to listen without feeling imposed upon. The original compositions are both steeped in the knowledge and respect of tradition whilst future focused within a framework of melody, harmony and free expression.

On ‘Mark’s Place’, a homage to saxophonist Mark Turner, the renowned and highly sought after bassist Matt Brewer, who studied at Juilliard school before moving on to work with Steve Coleman, Greg Osby amongst countless others, brings his inventive style to the platform on this contemplative piece with drummer Kendrick Scott bringing a rolling skipping swing to the piece before Matt rounds off the arrangement which settles back down.

‘Waltz for Diana’ is a long explorative composition that is both inventive and spacious leaving plenty of scope for the imaginative solos to emerge within the building blocks of this arrangement. It’s a subtle nod to Bill Evans’ ‘Waltz For Debby’ although more in the direction towards composer and guitarist Kurt Rosenwinkel and his composition, ‘Dream Of The Old’.

On the autumnal ‘Kalispel Bay’, saxophonist Mark Turner weaves a warm and rhythmic dialogue with the lyrical interjections of Kendrick Scott who lifts the momentum, creating a sonic picture of a wintry landscape in Idaho. Before embarking on a musical career via Berkley Music School, saxophonist Mark Turner studied at San Fransisco Art School but found his calling through the early inspirations of Sonny Rollins and John Coltrane amongst other giants of the saxophone.

Drummer Kendrick Scott has worked with The Crusaders, Herbie Hancock, Terence Blanchard and many more influential bands and musicians. His intricate style of swing and contemporary approach draws from his roots of his formative years in Houston, Texas and the community of artists that he has worked with on countless projects throughout his emerging career. Check out his accomplished album ‘Reverence’, on the Criss Cross label. On each of the eight compositions here on ‘Rhyme and Reason’ he adds both the necessary delicate touches and rhythmic dialogue that lifts and supports each fellow musician with a colourful array of approaches and textures.

Jason Palmer’s inventive album ‘Rhyme and Reason’, is rich, complex and each listen portrays something more to explore and enjoy. Let’s hope this group continue to work together as they seem to gel and spark off each others with great warmth and respect. A welcome release indeed!

Mark Savva