By Michael Barris | Published January 2017
Reedist Shawn Maxwell has won fans with a handful of provocative albums that helped make him an exciting figure on the Chicago jazz landscape. New Tomorrow, which adds trumpet voices to Maxwell’s regular quartet, sees the leader taking even more chances in his ongoing quest to surprise the listener.
“Embraceable Excuses,” the opening and strongest track, points to what’s to come: a plethora of riff-driven themes punched up with a heavy backbeat, embracing odd meters and leaning toward funk. What elevates these idiosyncratic tracks above mere compositional self-indulgence is the marvelously collaborative spirit that informs the album.
That said, things fall off a bit a er the opening piece. The decision to make just about every element subservient to the thudding drum beat gradually turns the heavy vamps into an assault on the senses. Nevertheless, the innovative impulse that motivates this colorful project is refreshing. All in all, this latest display of Maxwell’s adventurous spirit is bound to move admirers both new and old to say, “Vamp on, Shawn!”
New Tomorrow: Embraceable Excuses; WorkInProgress; ResponsibilityRun;InsideBack; Whole Hearted Half The Time; Unexpected Heel Turn; Progressive Regression; Saturday Morning Dance; Catbird Seat; Three Kinds Of Heat; Throw Away Tune #2; Eustachian Tube Dysfunction; Hitting Streak; Bye For Now. (65:49)
Personnel: Shawn Maxwell, alto saxophone, flute; Victor Garcia (1, 4, 5, 7, 10), Chad McCullough (2, 3, 6, 8, 13, 14), Corey Wilkes (11), trumpet; Matt Nelson, piano, Fender Rhodes, Wurlitzer; Junius Paul, bass; Phil Beale, drums.