Whenever I listen to instrumental bands I always think how would this music sound with words? It’s a silly thing to think of course but then I think of Beckett’s pair of plays Act Without Words I and II. Both plays feature a miming action and being given things from off stage. But when he begins to use these things they are taken away and the man is left frustrated. It always has me questioning why there are lyrics to songs in the first place.
Why not keep them separate? It also makes me think of all the great jam bands of the past say forty or so years. One in particular is the great jazz-funk fusion Medeski Martin & Wood, a band which New York trio Arjun can often emulate on their latest record Gravity.
Since 2003 the trio of Arjun has consisted of Eddie Arjun Peters (guitar), Lamar Myers (drums), and Andre Lyles (bass), and Gravity is Arjun’s fourth record and the third and final chapter of a trilogy that began with Space (2013) followed by Core (2014). Rather excitingly Core featured the previously aforementioned jazz-funk legend John Medeski and it also reached the # 4 position of the Jamband/Relix Radio charts.
Now on Gravity, the trio are joined by Cory Henry of Snarky Puppy and Jeff Coffin who has played with the Dave Matthews Band and Bela Fleck. The first track on the album “Prince” opens slowly and rather quietly. It draws you in with ripe bluesy guitar licks and then walks you slowly to the song’s core which ends up like a lesson in straight up guitar rock. Next up “Run” is more melodic and challenging but once it has you in its grip you’re hooked.
Up next “Crossroads” is electric guitar-centric and reminded me a bit of Clapton. Gravity closes with the ten-plus-minute mystic and cerebral “Gravity” which when listened to under the right conditions really does give one the sensation of floating.
The making of an album is tough enough but trying to put together a trilogy of records that each need to be part of a larger whole yet still be distinct can be very trying. But Gravity is an awe- inspiring capstone to such a large undertaking.
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