Monday 6 February 2017

'Astral Progressions' by Josef Leimberg [Review]

‘Astral Progressions’ is the stunning debut album from trumpeter Josef Leimberg and is another in an ever-growing line-up of musicians to establish themselves as solo artists following the seminal release of Kendrick Lamar’s heavily jazz-inspired multi-award winning project, ‘To Pimp A Butterfly’ in 2015...

Saxophonist, Kamasi Washington’s three-disk magnum opus ‘The Epic’ (2015) along with Terrace Martin’s Grammy-nominated project ‘Velvet Portraits’ in 2016 soon followed and now Leimberg’s ‘Astral Progressions’ takes pride of place amongst the album releases.

Leimberg’s credentials extend further than Kendrick however, having chalked up collaborations with Erykah Badu, Dr Dre, Funkadelic, Robin Thicke, Terrace Martin and Shafiq Husayn.  It’s a diverse mix of collaborations that have all gone on to shape the sound of ‘Astral Progressions’ making it a decidedly innovative and inspired piece of work.

And that diverse list of collaborations extends to the music here as well: West Coast rapper Kurupt probably appears as the biggest surprise name on the album’s title track, and further vocal contributions come courtesy of Bilal (‘Between Us 2’), Georgia Anne Muldrow (‘As I Think of You’) and Jimetta Rose on the notable ‘Echoes of One’.  The aforementioned Kamasi Washington and Terrace Martin each guest on show-stealing numbers like ‘Interstellar Universe’ (featuring Washington) and the Miles Davis cover of ‘Lonely Fire’ (featuring Martin and rekindling their LoveDragon production partnership).  Final mention really should go to Miguel Atwood-Ferguson whose string arrangements on a good bulk of the album go a long way to capturing the ethereal and cosmic soundscapes Leimberg has skilfully created.

‘Astral Progressions’ is a masterfully-created and exquisite album.  It’s focused, inspired and a wonderful proponent for 21st century jazz music.

‘Astral Progressions’ can be purchased from Bandcamp here

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