Despite possessing a pure tone, virtuoso technique
and wide-ranging knowledge of the jazz canon, Jason
Palmer remains relatively unheralded.
Nothing To Hide, a fine followup to his impressive debut of originals Songbook, shows a similar adventurousness on a program of imaginative interpretations of classics by Miles Davis, Clifford Brown, Donald Byrd, Lee Morgan, Freddie Hubbard and Booker Little, along with two of his own pieces performed with his regular working quintet of altoist Mike Thomas, guitarist Greg Duncan, bassist Lim Yang and drummer Lee Fish.
Opening with Byrd’s “Fly Little Bird Fly” Palmer
quickly demonstrates his innovative personality as an
arranger. Slowing down the tempo and changing the
time signature to a swinging 5/4 he makes the piece
his own, an excellent vehicle for his thoughtful
improvising, complemented by Thomas’ fiery alto.
Similarly intrepid orchestrations of Brown’s “Larue”
(interpolating the composer’s “Delilah” and an
original bass figure), Morgan’s “The Gigolo” (in 9/4
with another original bassline), Hubbard’s “Luana”
(slowing the tempo and melding it with his own
“Lower 9th Ward”) and Davis’ “Half Nelson”
(arranged by Fish in 9/4) display a penetrating
individuality. Only on Booker Little’s “Strength and
Sanity” does Palmer remain faithful to the original,
revealing a deep respect for the late trumpeter, whose
influence on his own compositional style is evident on
the originals “Nothing To Hide” and “Here And Now”
-the date’s most forward-looking entries.
At the Jazz Gallery Dec. 9th, the group (Mitsuru
Yoshizumi subbing for Yang) performed two sets of
intriguing originals and orchestrations (mainly
arrangements of songs by funk futurist Janelle Monáe)
that clearly identified Palmer as a visionary player
with an astounding vocabulary, playing music in a
uniquely personal voice, which while steeped in the
feats of the past, pushes inexorably towards tomorrow.