A Song Of Hope
Label: Whaling City Sound
Format: COMPACT DISC
Wheeler, Eric; Bell, Kahlil Kwame; Croker, Theo; Vega, Donald; Joy, Samara; Boone, Mike; Watts, Jeff "Tain"; Boone, Mekhi; Wyatt, Eric; Anderson, Clifton; Lowery, Chris
As the follow-up to his 2019 release "The Golden Rule: For Sonny," Eric Wyatt’s "A Song for Hope" is vastly different in both tone and intent. Where the former was a tour de force, a tribute to Sonny Rollins and a straight-ahead blast of straight-ahead bop, Wyatt’s new record is more adventurous, colorful, unpredictable, and wide-ranging. Both are beautiful, for some of the same—but also different—reasons. The energy is undeniable. On songs like “Fur Live” and McCoy Tyner’s “Contemplation,” Wyatt, along with drum legend Jeff “Tain” Watts, together lay it all on the table. Bassist Eric Wheeler and pianist Donald Vega join in, matching the energy with harmonic zest and fresh excitement. Elsewhere, as on the Breonna Taylor tribute “Say Her Name,” the lights dim a touch and the contrast is luminous. On Wyatt’s soulful take on Sting’s “Fragile,” he invites singer Samara Joy, the 21-year old winner of the 2019 Sarah Vaughan International Jazz Vocal Competition, to chime in, and she does so with drama and elegance. Recorded during the pandemic in a single session at Rudy Van Gelder’s historic Englewood Cliffs, NJ studio, A Song of Hope brings all the brio you’d expect from a Wyatt outing and more. His intent to shine beaming rays of optimism across what was then a barren musical landscape is noble, fulfilling. In accomplishing that intention, the man and his saxophone embrace new ideas, expand the band’s musical boundaries, and create a vast and gratifying journey for the listener to enjoy.