For his second release on the Positone label (and 4th overall), alto saxophonist Jacám Manricks, a native of Brisbane, Australia, has assembled quite a cast to play his music. Guitarist Adam Rogers, organist Sam Yahel, drummer Matt Wilson and, on one cut, trumpeter David Weiss, do exactly what one might expect, play with fire and intelligence. Wilson keeps the rhythms flowing and, on pieces such as the Finnish hymn “Ystava Sa Lapsien“, creates a “conversationalist” tone with the other musicians, not driving the song but adding numerous colors. Rogers shares the front line while playing with intelligence and creativity throughout. He can so exciting even at lower volumes, as he so nicely displays on “Take The Five Train.” Yahel is a double threat – his bass pedal work sets the foundation for the songs, opening up the “bottom” for Wilson’s highly active percussion while his solos sparkle with invention (his work in the background also is quite fine. The organ and guitar spin a lovely web on “Cry“, Manricks wisely holding off until both have had their say. Then, he “ups” the intensity level with a crackling solo. Although listed alongside the other musicians, Weiss only appears on the languid “Alibis and Lullabies“, his declaratory solo, with his crisp intonation, a pleasing foil to the bluesier sounds of the saxophonist.
As for Manricks, he plays like he composes, with great assurance and fluidity. His compositions are fully-realized, not just riffs for solos. When he steps out, one hear the lineage of alto saxophone, with hints of Charlie Parker’s flurry of riffs, Cannonball Adderley’s bluesy tones and the occasional more contemporary attack of David Binney. Truly, he has absorbed any and all influences which the listener hear in great clarity on his unaccompanied piece “Serene Pilgrimage.” He displays a much softer and richly melodic side on Antonio Jobim’s “Luiza” – while Wilson’s drums dance beneath, the saxophone, guitar and organ weave around each other with gentle phrases swirling about.
As one knows, there are, seemingly, thousands of fine musicians throughout the world. Many of them are technically adept, many are good composers and arrangers, but few are as accomplished as Jacám Manricks. His writing is intelligent but not scholarly and his musicianship excellent and often soulful. “Cloud Nine” shines! For more information, go to jacammanricks.com.