Any contemporary Jazz listener will tell you that very few new releases really nail it these days. You might get great technical chops on one album, some nice composition on another, and maybe, every now and then, someone will actually say something. So it’s with extraordinary glee that I direct your weary and disappointed ears to Sascha Jacobsen’s Outer Sunset, which shines a (well, dying) light on Jazz that it hasn’t basked in for years.
Latin Jazz? Straight Ahead? It’s all the same to Jacobsen’s Quintet, who speak both languages fluently, and effortlessly flip from one to another as the compositions demand. And with influences ranging from Wayne Shorter to Paquito D’Rivera, these original compositions demand a lot. Full of syncopated figures, melodic lines doubled by the whole band, and abrupt switches from mid-tempo swing time to a scorching Latin rhythm, this album is destined for heavy rotation in the living rooms of Jazz purists as well as Fusion buffs everywhere.
You won’t just be impressed; you’ll be melted by pieces such as "Curls" (track 4), which is a soulful bossa, evoking everything from Jobim to Pat Metheny’s "Bright Size Life" (with a fantastic clean guitar solo by Vanderveer to rival Pat’s, also). Jacobsen’s bass is steady and solid; the rich tone, coupled with his talent for melodic development, makes for lyrical solos that go for feeling in place of flash. Laval’s soloing is delicious on swing pieces such as "A Puro Sol" (track 6), where he serves up a few spicy and inspired choruses, but his expertise in Latin accompaniment is also apparent in his full command of the traditional offbeat rhythm piano figures. Stop your squinting. Despite its name, Outer Sunset
brightly illuminates the Jazz Idiom to reveal the true level of storytelling that’s still present in this music and in these times.