By Bill Milkowski | Published August 2020
Jonathan Barber’s star has been on the rise since his auspicious 2018 debut, Vision Ahead, and a 2019 tour in Pat Metheny’s trio. The Hartford native’s sophomore release, Legacy Holder, more than fulfills his promise, showcasing powerfully slick drumming within the context of adventurous writing that bears the unmistakable influence of Atlantis-era Wayne Shorter.
The reflective title track highlights some fluid improvising by guitarist Andrew Renfroe and builds toward exhilarating heights through old-school trading of eights between pianist Taber Gable and pungent-toned altoist Godwin Louis. The runaway uptempo swinger “Major” is charged by Barber’s forward momentum on the kit in tandem with Matt Dwonszyk’s insistent walking bass lines. “Son Of Hartford” opens with Barber slamming against some angular arpeggiated unisons from Renfroe and Louis, recalling classic Mahavishnu Orchestra. If Barber is indeed a legacy holder, he’s continuing in a lineage of adventurous drummer-composers spanning Tony Williams and Terri Lyne Carrington. There’s an abundance of heightened energy and new ideas here, executed with pristine precision by the bandleader and his future-facing ensemble.
Legacy Holder: The Call; Find My Way; Legacy Holder; Haikus; Major; Seconds & Seasons; Son Of Hartford; 29. (43:13)
Personnel: Jonathan Barber, drums; Taber Gable, keyboards; Andrew Renfroe, guitar; Godwin Louis, alto saxophone; Matt Dwonszyk, bass; Mar Vilaseca (1), vocals, piano.