Drummer Jonathan Barber is a young player who has toured and/or recorded with established players such as Pat Metheny, Nicholas Payton, Jeremy Pelt, and Steve Davis. On Barber’s second solo album, his quintet includes guitarist Andrew Renfroe, alto saxophonist Godwin Lewis, keyboardist Taber Gable, and bassist Matt Dwonszyk. Where some drummer-led sessions lean toward blowing sessions with an emphasis on chops, Barber displays sophistication as a composer, writing colorful songs with real melodic substance and harmonic sophistication.
At times the music evokes 70s jazz-rock, which eventually became formulaic, but Barber has a penchant for developing songs in interesting ways, with fresh twists adding an element of surprise and building drama while bringing out thebest in each player. Mar Vilaseca sings and plays piano on “The Call,” the haunting opening track that serves as a call to listen. The introspective melody that leads off the title track eventually leads to some inspired trading between Lewis and Gable. The closer, “29,” features an insistent melody over a piano-bass vamp and a fine solo by Barber. A mature effort by a young musician, Legacy Holder makes one look forward to what’s next.