Darren Johnston's Gone to Chicago: The Big Lift

Album review
Darren Johnston's Gone to Chicago: The Big Lift

Darren Johnston's Gone to Chicago

The Big Lift

Label: Porto Franco
Media: CD
Genre: Jazz

While all too many of San Francisco’s rising jazz stars succumb to New York City’s magnetic pull, Canadian-born trumpeter Darren Johnston feels the call of Chicago. During past visits to the Windy City, Johnston bonded with trombonist Jeb Bishop, vibraphonist Jason Adasiewicz, bassist Nate McBride, and drummer Frank Rosaly. Their music—rhythmically loose and spiky, texturally wide open, and melodically unpredictable—reflects the avant- garde aesthetic these players share. But Johnston, the canny composer of all but two of the tunes, reveals his appreciation for historical precedents as well, covering Ornette Coleman’s “Love Call” and teasing out the most radical elements of Duke Ellington’s “Black and Tan Fantasy.” His wide range of timbres (broad, bright, fuzzy, tight) plays off Bishop’s niftily, and Adasiewicz waves his mallets like magic wands, generating a psychedelic haze of vibe reverberations, while McBride (who could have been mixed with a bit more punch) and Rosaly add a rubbery and edgy bounce to a quintet sound that is both cosmic and spastic—anything but jazz business as usual.

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  • primary artist, Darren Johnston's Gone to Chicago
  • CD

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