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Barrett Martin Group: Transcendence

The strongest message that comes across from the Barrett Martin Group’s sixth album, Transcendence, is that you really should expect the unexpected. Barrett himself is a multifaceted musician whose CV includes being a Grammy winning percussionist, producer and composer, while also contributing to hundreds of albums alongside jazz and world music artists. On top of that he’s also a member of Walking Papers alongside the likes of Duff McKagan of Guns n’ Roses. In fairness, with a track record like that, maybe there is no ‘expected’ about Barrett Martin in the first place?

His own group are an eight piece jazz ensemble that don’t really play jazz at all. Well, they do, but they don’t present it as jazz. Well, they do, it’s just that they don’t care how often you really notice that what they’re doing is jazz. Well, they do…

With Barrett contributing to albums by REM and Queens Of The Stone Age over the years, it should be little surprise that guest slots are reserved for the guitarists from both bands; QotSA man Dave Catching adding a spicy edge to two numbers; “Wizard Of The Desert” where a deathly deep groove finds the guitarist infusing the heady mood with a forceful but never flash turn of fret fire and “The Asp” which takes a much more measured approach. This time a pulsating beat being merely the staging platform from which the guitars burst forth; although they have the keyboards of Ryan Burns as a keen companion. REM’s Peter Buck plays a much more covert part in “The Grover” his tasteful playing integral to the final outcome (a playful but involved blend of rhythm and melody) but he’s more happy directing from the rear and keeping the whole shebang together than he is standing alone in the spotlight.

The real director of ceremonies is, of course, Martin himself, most of the compositions opening with a stage-setting drum pattern that takes us through the piece. Hypnotic and expertly crafted, you only need to sit deep in the pocket with the “Arrival Of The Queen” or be buried deep in the percussion only demand to “Listen!” to feel the persuasive power of what this percussionist can provide. The latter’s sister piece, “Speak!” positively swirls as the brass from saxophonist Hans Teuber and trumpeter Dave Carter prods and pokes with a subtle insistence.

Across the album the Latin percussion from Lisette Garcia and African drums from Thione Diop constantly pull the atmosphere towards fresh areas, while upright bass man Evan Flory-Barnes, and Martin himself, hold everything together. Tight as can be, yet as expansive as their desires allow them, the pair are mighty from start to finish. While, even with big star names, there’s no denying the importance of Andy Coe and his guitar during “Miss Galactic” as it enigmatically shimmers and shakes, or “Rise & Rise” which brings a seductive edge to proceedings.

Transcendence is jazz, it’s world music, it’s fusion and it’s funk and soul and, well you get the picture. In the end Transcendence doesn’t really care what it is, it’s just content to open the doors, let you in, strap you down and to allow the wild and varied journey to begin. At its conclusion you’ll soon be asking for a repeat performance.

Track Listing
1. Invocation
2. Speak
3. Sands Of Venus
4. Swingin On A Moonbeam
5. Miss Galactic Fantastic
6. The Asp
7. Play The 4th Prime
8. Nebula
9. Rise & Rise
10. Listen
11. Wizard Of The Desert
12. The Grover
13. Arrival Of The Queen
14. Moonfish
15. Event Horizon

Added: June 30th 2018
Reviewer: Steven Reid
Related Link: Barrett Martin online
Hits: 1227
Language: english

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