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John Carroll Kirby|Septet

Septet

John Carroll Kirby

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In the late '70s keyboardist Bob James did a series of instrumental albums that immediately divided listeners and critics. Some were swayed by the music's light and funky tone while others savaged it for being formulaic and insipid. One thing James detractors were sure of: this lightweight fluff would never influence anybody. It's funny how often musical certainties prove false and here Los Angeles pianist/composer John Carroll Kirby, who has worked in the heady company of pop stars Solange, Frank Ocean and Harry Styles, leans heavily on that once derided aesthetic along with six fellow players who also find inspiration in discovering an easy listening groove and enriching it. Kirby's a believer in animism—the idea that all things, inanimate or alive, possess a soul—and "P64 By My Side," which celebrates the late California mountain lion famed for its skill in repeatedly crossing freeways, is pure James (and Hubert Laws), with the flutes of woodwind players Tracy Wannomae and Logan Horne rhythmically repeating an easygoing chord pattern before sliding off into solos that are complemented by Nick Mancini's vibraphone solo. Septet may come to be known as Kirby's "flute album." He opens "Swallow Tail" with round tones of an electric keyboard before switching to a note bending effect as flutes again become his main instrumental foil. Ostensibly written for the bandleader/ jazz drummer, "The Quest of Chico Hamilton" is more of a set piece for vibes soloing than any display of drumming pyrotechnics and Kirby goes all sprightly and twinkling on a Fender Rhodes in "Jubilee Horns" filling the solo space with flutes and marimba. Likely recorded as group jams with everyone playing live at once, the sound here is deceptively deep and rich and so incredibly listenable that it's eternally in danger of fading into background music as the funky line between smooth jazz and Muzak is tread. With similarly laid back Japanese city pop having just won new respect and fresh reissues, perhaps it is time for this variety of jazz pop to undergo a similar reassessment? © Robert Baird/Qobuz

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Septet

John Carroll Kirby

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1
Rainmaker
00:07:42

Tony Buchen, MixingEngineer - John Carroll Kirby, Composer, Producer, MainArtist

2021 Stones Throw Records 2021 Stones Throw Records

2
P64 By My Side
00:04:11

Tony Buchen, MixingEngineer - John Carroll Kirby, Composer, Producer, MainArtist

2021 Stones Throw Records 2021 Stones Throw Records

3
Sensing Not Seeing
00:05:33

Tony Buchen, MixingEngineer - John Carroll Kirby, Composer, Producer, MainArtist

2021 Stones Throw Records 2021 Stones Throw Records

4
Swallow Tail
00:03:48

Tony Buchen, MixingEngineer - John Carroll Kirby, Composer, Producer, MainArtist

2021 Stones Throw Records 2021 Stones Throw Records

5
Weep
00:04:49

Tony Buchen, MixingEngineer - John Carroll Kirby, Composer, Producer, MainArtist

2021 Stones Throw Records 2021 Stones Throw Records

6
Jubilee Horns
00:07:00

Tony Buchen, MixingEngineer - John Carroll Kirby, Composer, Producer, MainArtist

2021 Stones Throw Records 2021 Stones Throw Records

7
The Quest of Chico Hamilton
00:04:28

Tony Buchen, MixingEngineer - John Carroll Kirby, Composer, Producer, MainArtist

2021 Stones Throw Records 2021 Stones Throw Records

8
Nucleo
00:09:02

Tony Buchen, MixingEngineer - John Carroll Kirby, Composer, Producer, MainArtist

2021 Stones Throw Records 2021 Stones Throw Records

Album Description

In the late '70s keyboardist Bob James did a series of instrumental albums that immediately divided listeners and critics. Some were swayed by the music's light and funky tone while others savaged it for being formulaic and insipid. One thing James detractors were sure of: this lightweight fluff would never influence anybody. It's funny how often musical certainties prove false and here Los Angeles pianist/composer John Carroll Kirby, who has worked in the heady company of pop stars Solange, Frank Ocean and Harry Styles, leans heavily on that once derided aesthetic along with six fellow players who also find inspiration in discovering an easy listening groove and enriching it. Kirby's a believer in animism—the idea that all things, inanimate or alive, possess a soul—and "P64 By My Side," which celebrates the late California mountain lion famed for its skill in repeatedly crossing freeways, is pure James (and Hubert Laws), with the flutes of woodwind players Tracy Wannomae and Logan Horne rhythmically repeating an easygoing chord pattern before sliding off into solos that are complemented by Nick Mancini's vibraphone solo. Septet may come to be known as Kirby's "flute album." He opens "Swallow Tail" with round tones of an electric keyboard before switching to a note bending effect as flutes again become his main instrumental foil. Ostensibly written for the bandleader/ jazz drummer, "The Quest of Chico Hamilton" is more of a set piece for vibes soloing than any display of drumming pyrotechnics and Kirby goes all sprightly and twinkling on a Fender Rhodes in "Jubilee Horns" filling the solo space with flutes and marimba. Likely recorded as group jams with everyone playing live at once, the sound here is deceptively deep and rich and so incredibly listenable that it's eternally in danger of fading into background music as the funky line between smooth jazz and Muzak is tread. With similarly laid back Japanese city pop having just won new respect and fresh reissues, perhaps it is time for this variety of jazz pop to undergo a similar reassessment? © Robert Baird/Qobuz

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