Robert Jospe : Just Lookin’ Review
Drummer, percussionist Robert Jospe is known for his fusionistic approach toward the jazz genre. His latest endeavor Just Lookin’ with the Robert Jospe Express (Butch Taylor: keys, Dane Alderson: bass) also features guests John D’Earth on trumpet on tracks, “Just Lookin’” and “Round Seven” along with Brian Mesko on guitars on “Snowed In.” It’s a nice expansion for Jospe’s discography with the Express. Jospe and D’earth have recorded and performed together since the 1970’s so this is not a new collaboration, but certainly a welcomed one. Guitarist Brian Mesko originally from Arkansas, currently resides in Roanoke, VA and has played with Jospe for over ten years on various projects. This title sat on my queue for a bit because I was underwhelmed by the artwork, call me crazy but I miss the days when the full presentation was a part of the experience. Prodded nicely, but firmly by Jospe’s rep I was encouraged to focus on the music, that therein resided the nougat, and it was tasty. Glad I listened.
Jospe and crew have a reverence about their sound, its finely tuned communication between players offers a symbiosis that is felt in the rhythm as well as the propulsion of the melodies. Tunes that stuck out for me included “Beauf,” a Rhodes laden tune that incorporates band hits for emotional effect and a melody that put simply, feels good. Jospe’s drums are recorded in a warm and emotive manner, his texturization of the tune is only matched by his groove. Taylor jabs with well placed colorizations as bassist Alderson holds the pocket down firmly, with a throbbing growl that is felt deeply, of particular note is his solo on this tune. What I like most about this album is the active role Jospe takes in his role as an instrumentalist equally responsible for groove and the execution of the melody, his kit sings with a melodic lyricism.
“Round Seven,” features the additive of D’Earth’s trumpet. His brightly tone trumpet is augmented by Taylor’s organ underpinning, that creates a nice percolation under D’Earth’s modernistic note choices. Once again Alderson and Jospe created a complex canvas of texturization that keeps your ear keenly tuned in, while listening to D’Earth lay down solos along with Taylor. Each player takes their turn in the chute churning out masterful solos with well-conceived motifs that build in intensity. The groove never lets up, each player fills the holes with excellent commentary. A highlight is the deceiving ending thought to be a stabbed ending, that continues on with fading out improvisations ending with D’Earth. Well played gentlemen.
Just Lookin’ highlights well balanced masterful performances and the robustness one hopes for in a fusion offering. Jospe is certainly the leader of this group adding colorful textures, interesting time signatures and most importantly off all – groove, groove and groove. The Express delivers on Just Lookin’ each track is uniquely its own story that adds up to a meaningful listen throughout.
June 10, 2019