Up until about a year ago the name Josh Maxey meant nothing to me. Now it is a name synonymous with soulful swing, explorative improvisation and exciting compositional talent!
This shift in recognition came about the first time I had heard Josh’s Celebration Of Soul release on Miles High Records. I immediately dug Josh’s compositional flavor and found that his guitar voice ran the gamut of contemporary Jazz Guitar while retaining the traditional spirit of those who came before him. As Jazz Guitar great Rodney Jones puts it:
“Josh Maxey is at the forefront of the continuing evolution of jazz and in particular the jazz guitar. In an era where there are so many truly gifted musicians, Josh stands out because of the feeling of his music and the ability to reach the heart of the listener in a transformative way.”*
You seriously can’t get a better endorsement than that!
As a testament to these words, Rodney joins Josh on three out of the seven tunes (“Light And Shade”, “Cycles Of Sound” and “Blues For Page”) adding his own brand of tasteful Soulful and straight-ahead Jazz that complements not only the tunes, but Josh’s own creative playing style as well, where we hear elements of Grant Green, Nathan Page, John Coltrane and even Jimmy Page!
From the poignant and evocative acoustic openings of “Brooklyn Sunrise” and “Colorado Sunset” with their electric coloring of volume swelled chords and sliding notes**, to the dynamic propulsion of “Blues For Page” – thanks in large part to the energetic and powerhouse swing of drummer Jeremy Noller – Celebration of Soul offers a variety of moods for the listener that keeps one wondering what’s coming up next! As Josh himself states:
“The music on this recording expresses the many peaks and valleys of being human”…“It is a celebration of the jazz tradition, the sound of a band approaching new compositions with the intent of expressing not just the notes found on the page but the meaning that brings life to music. The spiritual tradition is a golden thread in improvised music. It brings the listener back, time and again, to the most primal and fundamental part of themselves: soul.”*
And soul is what you get as all the players associated with this CD are on the same page musically! Apart from the potent guitar prowess of both Josh and Rodney, saxophonist Chase Baird, drummer Jeremy Noller and organist Brian Charette bring their A-game to this session with seasoned comping skills together with their own inimitable improvisational talents. This is truly a collective experience and the material benefits greatly from this unity of spirits. Just listen to the tune “Cycles of Sound” where the groove is – as the young kids say today – just sick! This song should have your feet tapping from note one to note done!
The same goes for “Culmination”, “Light & Shade” and the title track. These are all memorable tracks with great playing from all concerned which is not surprising given the level of talent each player has. What was surprising – at least to me – was that this CD is the tenth and final CD in a series of music “…that was recorded in 3 years documenting 50 original compositions with 20 musicians.” If the other nine are as soulful and hip as the 10th, then I’ve got a lot of listening to do!
Seriously though, don’t take my word for it. Head on over to http://joshmaxey.com/celebration-of-soul and check it out for yourself. After all, you may not know the name Josh Maxey now, but chances are that after listening to this CD, his name is one you won’t soon forget.
* As quoted from the Maxey Celebration of Soul PR Sheet
** “Brooklyn Sunrise” and “Colorado Sunset” also feature the haunting sounds of Dave Parnell on acoustic guitar, Brett Parnell on lap steel guitar and Michael Cioffero on slide guitar.