Matt Skellenger Group
Denver is never short on impressive outfits playing very skilled music, and this time it’s Vitality, the 4th album from the Matt Skellenger Group. An ensemble of top notch musicians who bring instruments like tabla, edu, ghatam, cajon and even a conch shell to the worldly listen, Skellenger’s electric bass steers the fusion affair with much precision.
“Showtime” starts out the album with rich guitar lines and smooth horns, and “Vitality” follows with a calm, meditative tone that carries an island flavor. There’s a lot of lengthy tracks present- more than half being 6 minutes plus- and it allows the lengthy contributors to shine, such as the spirited trumpets from Matt Ried on the bluesy “13 Past 11”, and on the moody “Fibre” Ried handles cornet with much sophistication.
Later in the disc, “Peyton’s Piece” offers us grooves amid a reflective setting, and “Floating” is all sorts of inventiveness with acrobatic bass picking from Skellenger and a splendid conch shell solo from Adam Bartczak. The 9 track album exits on “Alt Facts”, which carries a more ambient feel with punchy horns and a general haziness that solidifies the unparalleled creativity present.
Skellenger, a music teacher, has two and a half decades playing in various bands under his belt and is well versed in several genres, though here he’s sticking primarily with jazz, although it’s full of artistic and experimental ideas, and flows with engaging, pleasant, timeless beauty.
Travels well with: Victor Wooten– Soul Circus, Les Claypool– Of Whales And Woe