By: Sarah Moore
A melee of piano begins Lafayette Gilchrist's newest album, 3 (Hyena Records), his third disc. The scattered patterns of piano from "Visitors" meld into a semblance of rhythm as drums and bass are added. Each of the selections here was inspired by or pays homage to a particular artist, and it is no surprise that the first to influence him was Sun Ra. Gilchrist's piano mastery glosses over different genres that Sun Ra covered including classical, ragtime and unique twists a la Thelonious Monk.
Gilchrist's next piece, "In Depth," pays tribute to visionary James Brown, with a stop/start funk drums by Nate Reynolds and bass by Anthony "Blue" Jenkins. With a subtle funk outfit and a deep soul mood, the pianist also incorporates the style of Andrew Hill, approaching modal lines and free form space amidst a structured rhythm section.
Although there are only seven selections, the disc features almost an hour of music that maintains a fun-filled, youthful vigor amidst the changing themes and song structures. Even on laidback, sloth-like "The Last Train," there's still an element of agility. Gilchrist conjured this piece upon his visiting one of the stops along the Underground Railroad Underground Railroad, but there is less of a solemn tone than one of endurance and determination. With every pound of a chord Gilchrist makes sure each one hits exactly and precisely. There is no mistake or blurring of lines. There is no skipping over any part. He hits some more ambient territory, but never loses focus on the end.
"Volcano Red" begins with a low funk bassline with some dissonant chords on top. As his liner notes state, Gilchrist plays this for his first band, The New Volcanoes, and the song runs along like a "pot boiling over." It starts off with a steady flow and develops into a more intricate, frenzied affair. The end becomes a flurry of phrases that go over the edge and eventually fizzles out. The final piece, "Inside Outside," came to Gilchrist in a dream. Deep funk supports the selection as Gilchrist noodles and prods his keys, creating a thrilling end to a solid album.
JamBase | Baltimore
Go See Live Music!