There is a strong tendency to think about jazz only in the past tense, which is a shame because the genre is still churning out its fair share of new visionaries.
Honestly, who can really blame a music fan for dwelling only on the music that was made decades ago, especially when transcendentally great albums like Miles Davis’ Bitches Brew, John Coltrane’s A Love Supreme and Herbie Hancock’s Head Hunters exist. A resurgent love for vinyl records and the atmospheric nature of jazz music have given younger audiences an appreciation for the greats. Purchasing one’s first copy of Davis’ Kind of Blue has nearly become a hipster rite of passage in some circles.
But while the originally American music style no longer carries the commercial marketability it once did (at least not in its pure form), jazz is not dead. Two of this country’s most popular genres — hip-hop and R&B/neo-soul — both emerged from jazz’s influence. So it is interesting to see many of today’s young composers working aspects of those new styles back into their music. (See saxophone genius Kamasi Washington, Terrace Martin and his band The Pollyseeds and New York’s Onyx Collective.)
There are signs of life in Oklahoma City’s jazz community as well. Tacit, a jazz and rock fusion group formed about three years ago in Edmond, certainly comes from a proper realm of influence. It lists Davis, Hancock, Return to Forever, Weather Report and other greats as inspirations.
The quintet — with a roster including guitarist/synth guitarist Jared Lowery, drummer Paul Hollas, saxophonist Alexis Lewis, bassist Joe Richard and keyboardist Carl Victor Moore — released its self-titled CD at a show earlier this month at The Root. The group is scheduled to play Friday at Lefty’s on Greenwood in Tulsa.
Tacit is a very good live band specializing in mood music that pairs perfectly with a night out with friends. That talent comes across on the six-track, 39-minute album release as well. This is a project that is great for an evening of content focus at home.
While the music can occasionally slip into the background, there are more than a few moments that demand a close listen.
The album’s best song is likely “Rails,” which might also be the most accessible tune. It is a brief moment of music compared to the lengthier soundscapes found later on the album, but it commands the listener’s attention from start to finish. It is upbeat and lively with strong synths that set up the perfect backdrop for Lewis’ sax to take on a life of its own. The band is often its best when it allows Lewis to take the lead, but credit has to go to the surrounding musicians for putting her in a position to succeed.
The CD is mostly instrumental, but “Mud in the Water” is Tacit’s intriguing foray into vocal sounds. The song opens with weirdly distorted vocals that give way to a soulful funk rendition.
“Say what you mean; talk is cheap,” the lyrics — perhaps improvised — go. “What kind of person throws mud in the water?”
There are a few politicians who should probably give this song a listen.
Each member of Tacit is given their own chance to shine on the album. Everyone gets their own solo on “Feathers,” a jam that shows off the talents of its key figures.
Tacit is clearly a band geared primarily toward its live show, which is great. Jazz is best enjoyed live, after all. But this release shows the group can be just as good in the studio. It would be interesting to see Tacit release a thematic, cohesive project in the future because it would likely knock it out of the park.
Tacit’s CD is available to stream free at soundcloud.com/jaredlowery.
Print headline: Unspoken truth; Local jazz-fusion quintet Tacit impresses on a new self-titled CD release.