Kelvin Andreas ‘Vivid Imagery’ (Self-released) 3/5

‘Vivid Imagery’ is the new self-released album from Kelvin Andreas. Kelvin is based in Boston, having trained at the city’s prestigious Berklee College of Music. Kelvin is the drummer on this record, with alto saxophonist Nathan See, pianist Takeru Saito and bassist Soso Gelovani. The compositions are beautifully executed by the young quartet. The sound has strong foundations in Jazz but with some grooving contemporary beats from Kelvin taking centre stage on tracks like ‘Bloom’.

The wistful opening tune ‘Manchester by the Sea’ quickly lulls you away, with its soothing solos and pensive brush-work. Next, comes another ballad with ‘Snowdance’, however, it’s a lot more modern with adventurous sax solos, a dynamic growth and hip piano chords.
In contrast to the conservative overture, ‘Bloom’ is reminiscent of something modernist Robert Glasper might produce, it has a distinct RnB laid-back feel. An edgier nature is gained with the addition of the electric bass and soulful piano. The track has no saxophone, but the piano’s inventiveness and uplifting hook keeps interest, although the bass solo is little lacklustre.

‘Awake’ feels like the weakest of the session, a little meandering and rudderless. The opening melody doesn’t hold interest. However, the last sax solo really saves the track, it’s expressiveness and assertiveness impresses like a solo from virtuoso Norwegian tenor saxophonist Marius Neset.

The string section’s introductory interlude on ‘By the Riverside’ adds some extra sophistication and gravitas, later elevating the saxophone for a truly climactic and heartfelt moment. It’s a resolute composition with a mournful yet powerful sentiment. However, it does feel like a rather abrupt ending for a tune with such passion and beauty.

‘Purple Sky’ is more akin to Hard Bop, taking a more brutal approach complete with ambling bass line and adventurous soloing. Pianist Takeru takes command on this track and plays with an innocent yet confident intent, injecting ferocious bursts of pace. Nathan’s sax tone is controlled and has a maturity crucial for a convincing Blues number. Later on, he really lets loose here too, evoking similar squeals shrill dissonance to Wayne Shorter.

The session closes with ‘Till I See You Again’, another classic ballad. A fitting, if a little insipid, conclusion to the album which at times produces some excellent performances.

Fred Neighbour