Albums just aren’t made like the way “The New Cool” was made. Yamaha Entertainment Group label president Chris Gero put legendary keyboardist Bob James and master bassist Nathan East in the recording studio, equipped them with state-of-the-art Yamaha gear and gave them free reign to create. Recorded entirely in Nashville, the long-time collaborators emerged with an unexpected and audacious collection of original compositions plus a few handpicked classics, an acoustic jazz outing that will make you forget everything you thought you knew about these GRAMMY®-recognized artists best known as contemporary jazz luminaries. The disc produced by Gero, James and East will be released September 18.
“The New Cool” unfolds much in the way the meticulously-crafted project was conceived. The germ begins organically with a couple of intimate James and East duets. Pastoral piano wanderings explore the outer perimeter of straight-ahead jazz where they peruse, mirror and engage with meandering bass lines. In fact, more than half of the record’s compositions written by James and/or East are sparsely-produced, probing piano and bass sojourns. As the seed sprouts, dramatic orchestral accoutrements added by the Nashville Recording Orchestra illuminate the piano, keyboard and bass explorations, contributing hues that are warmly rustic and autumnal or whimsically vibrant. James challenges with deftly inventive arrangements on complex pieces like “All Will Be Revealed” while East counts off supple rhythms that are astutely measured and metered. Fluid melodies and harmonies ranging from subtle, serene and meditative to lush, exquisite and cascading blossom throughout, whether emoted by a dexterous piano, keyboard or bass or East’s celestial vocalese. An imaginatively-arranged version of Willie Nelson’s “Crazy” bops and swings in sublimely surprising style before the ultimate surprise is revealed: a serendipitous vocal from Vince Gill. The proceedings flourish in a gust of breezy Brazilian jazz when percussionist Rafael Padilla and drummer Scott Williamson appear on “Canto Y La Danza” and climax in a crashing crescendo on the explosive and intricately orchestrated “Turbulence.”
“‘The New Cool’ project carries with it a special level of excitement for me as Bob and I have been courting the idea of this duo adventure for many years,” said East, who released his self-titled, GRAMMY® nominated solo debut album last year via Yamaha Entertainment Group on the heels of playing on Daft Punk’s 2014 GRAMMY®-winning Record of the Year “Get Lucky.” “I’ve always loved the sound of the piano and bass together, and have enjoyed duo recordings by the greats: Bill Evans & Eddie Gomez and Keith Jarrett & Charlie Haden. ‘The New Cool’ is our celebration of more than 25 years of friendship and musical camaraderie. This collaboration was embraced by Yamaha Entertainment Group and producer Chris Gero, who took it yet to another level.”
“The more I played with Nathan over the course of many live performances and spanning more than 25 years, the more in sync we were whether or not we had the anchor of the drums,” said James, a two-time GRAMMY® winner considered one of the founding fathers of smooth/contemporary jazz and whose extensive catalogue is frequently sampled on hip hop tracks. “Something special happens when we only have each other’s notes to play off of, when the music is totally exposed.”
Although busy with touring and recording individually as well as together, including as half of the contemporary jazz supergroup Fourplay, James and East are committed and energized by “The New Cool,” which will be supported comprehensively in traditional and non-traditional ways harnessing the full power of Yamaha Entertainment Group. Nearly a dozen video vignettes that take viewers into the recording studio during the making of the album will soon begin to trickle out through the official website (www.TheNewCoolAlbum.com) as well as on the artists’ social media platforms and a full-scale documentary film will unspool in the fall shortly after the album’s street date. A grand-scale concert date is in the initial planning stages, which is expected to be streamed live and captured for television broadcast.
The songs that make-up “The New Cool” album are:
“The New Cool”
“All Will Be Revealed”
“Midnight Magic/Love Me As Though There Were No Tomorrow”
“Crazy” (featuring Vince Gill)
“How Deep Is The Ocean”
“Canto Y La Danza”
“Waltz For Judy”
“Ghost Of A Chance”
“House Of Blue” (U.S. bonus track)
For more information, please visit www.TheNewCoolAlbum.com.