by Anne Carlini
|Title – Pawns: Not For The Ordinary
Artist – Micah Graves
For those not in the know, after a six-month stint as an exchange student in Amsterdam, pianist Micah Graves returned home with a passion to write music.
Graves’ musical foundation has roots in several of the same programs that assisted in the early development of Christian McBride, Joey DeFrancesco, Justin Faulkner, Immanuel Wilkins and many more.
With an aggressive recording schedule, the 23-year-old Philadelphia artist has released three impressive projects in less than a year, including his sublime, genre-blending record Pawns.
In 2022, his discography is slated to double. Two of his new works will feature original compositions and his other project will pay homage to jazz standards. [J. Michael Harrison, WRTI].
1. Pawns (8:37)
2. Spirit (6:44)
3. Lost In Time In Central Square (8:06)
4. Inner Beast (7:42)
5. Fed Up (7:26)
6. Odd Times (6:42)
7. When We Fall (7:12)
8. The Hague (5:42)
Micah Graves third album, Pawns, fuses elements of bebop, fusion, funk and storytelling that fits the theme around renewal, hope and revival.
Indeed, the album can be likened to Weather Report, Chick Corea and Jeff Lorber fusion. Furthermore, Pawns highlights the intricate ways Micah writes, highlighting mixed meter, odd forms, and a mix of traditional and modern harmony.
This quite stunningly vibrant new album opens on the cinematically-charged title track Pawns and the fervently-motivated Spirit and follows those up with the atmospherical Lost In Time In Central Square and then comes the fully-charged, rambunctiously manic, and yet at all times contained Inner Beast.
Up next is the excellently sculptured Fed Up (featuring Dick Oats) and that is in turn backed by the less-pacy, more cultured approach taken on Odd Times, the album rounding out with the sweet, unadulterated elegance of When We Fall, coming to a close on the percussional jazz groove jam vibe of The Hague.
The album also highlights the individual players, solos and duet tandems that happen within the music. Pawns gives way to cater to what the soloist is building to.
It touches and highlights the norms of Traditional jazz but also in the same notion it branches out into a category of its own. The music was written during Micah’s time abroad In Amsterdam.
The music is based upon the new adventurous sounds Micah was hearing, and also the euphoria of feeling love and a renewal of spirit. A good portion of the music is comprised of music that is supposed to uplift and renew the spirit in a way that highlights the intricacies of jazz.
PLAYERS & INSTRUMENTS:
Drums: Julian Miltenberger
Bass: Zach Guise
Tenor Sax: Yesseh Ali
Trumpet: Robby Cruz
Alto Sax: Dick Oats
Piano Synth Keyboards: Micah Graves
Vocals: Shafiq Hicks
Vocals: Danielle Dougherty
Violin: Zoe Lynch
Guitar: Zach Fischer