Guitarist Phil Sargent has studied with progressive-jazz guitar luminaries Ben Monder and Brad Shepik, but he charts a distinct and non-derivative path on this winning studio date. Other than keyboardists John Funkhouser and Brian Friedland respectively lending their wares on two tracks, Sargent reaps substantial benefits by teeming with vocalist Aubrey Johnson, who contrasts, offsets and harmonizes via wordless vocals throughout the program.
Sargent slams the pedal to the metal on various works, signaling a jazz-fusion vista. Ultimately, the band designs a sound that may summon notions of 1980s Pat Metheny, coupled with hardcore rock and fluid jazz improvisation. However, Sargent goes for broke in spots and, at times, creates a vibe that conjures up notions of metal band Judas Priest teaming with celebrated Brazilian jazz vocalist Flora Purim. But it must be noted that Sargent isn’t fixated with metal-jazz, but simply turns up the heat and volume during certain pieces or movements.
The guitarist fuses speed and ascending choruses amid jazzy riffs and brain-crushing crunch chords, yet it’s Johnson angelic voice that serves as the equalizer. Essentially, Sargent’s musicality is asymmetrical parts beauty and power. He also incorporates melodic hooks into the mix, where superior technique, cunning interactions, memorable song-forms and seething solo jaunts attain a near-flawless symmetrical presence.
Sargent doesn’t exactly offer an agenda that is conceptually groundbreaking. Although the focus and overall dynamic suggests a deeply personalized statement that incorporates familiar genre-hopping persuasions into a vibrant agenda. In effect, Sargent and his band generate a buoyant and sizzling impetus, tempered by numerous sweet spots and harmonically enticing overtones. A New Day intimates an appropriate title and looms as a perfect vehicle to get your adrenaline flowing. Not over-baked or superfluous, Sargent says NO to filler material as each piece hits home in rather prolific and succinct fashion.