do for you?
Lance Bryant, Christian Fabian, Jason Marsalis
By Kabir Sehgal
do for you? is a sizzling album featuring saxophonist and vocalist Lance Bryant, bassist Christian Fabian, and drummer Jason Marsalis. It showcases original works by Bryant and Fabian, with a tune by Marsalis, as well as works by Victor Lewis and Antonio Carlos Jobim; the trio’s collective mastery and virtuosity as jazz musicians is consistently front and center.
The album opens with Five Minute Blues, showing the group’s improvisatory prowess in the iconic blues form. Written by Fabian, the blues melody is simple and catchy, and the Band masters the call and response phrases before impressive saxophone and bass solos. Up next is Never Again, written by Marsalis, an uptempo swing tune that features Bryant’s blazing saxophone sound on the melody, punctuated expertly by Marsalis on the drums.
Bryant’s Of A Certain Age slows things down, taking on a classic jazz ballad feel and featuring organist Gates Thomas and Bryant on vocals. The tune takes on a wonderfully nostalgic tone as the lyrics beg the question: when did I become that guy of a certain age? Truly, Of A Certain Age can easily pass for a jazz standard, both because of the nostalgic ballad feel of the composition and the artful performance by the trio. Bryant’s The Cat Hatter picks up the pace again, taking on a playful and upbeat bebop feel. The Band never loses its tightness, even through the solo form, which is punctuated with impressive solo fills from Marsalis. Bryant’s compositional facility shines through in this tune.
Fabian’s do for you? opens with a bluesy solo bassline that showcases the bassist’s gloriously clear pizzicato technique before the sax and drums come in. Jobim’s If You Never Come To Me features Bryant on vocals, and Gates Thomas on Rhodes; this track features an entirely new sound and feel for the Band as the Brazilian composer’s voice and roots shine through in this interpretation of the song. Marsalis does a particularly skillful job at bringing Brazilian rhythms and timbres to this track. If You Never Come To Me is a cornerstone of this album, and an apt display of the expansive multi-genre capabilities that these musicians possess.
Fabian’s Resolvence Of The Old begins with a contemplative and virtuosic bass solo; this solo showcases Fabian’s technique once again with double-stop pizz, pitch bends, and grooves that treat the listener to an emotionally rich sonic experience before the drums and saxophone come in, taking an unexpectedly uptempo swing feel for the remainder of the composition.
Weather Forecast is a collaborative composition—composed by all three members of the trio, this track features an unrelenting and funky drum and bass groove and angular, blazing saxophone melody. This tune, with features reminiscent of jazz-funk fusion artists like Herbie Hancock, sends a clear message to the listener: These artists have not only mastered every corner of the tradition (as seen in every track that has come before this one); they can do anything. Weather Forecast is one of the unexpected pleasures of this album. With Moxie Inside, the penultimate track on this album, the Band keeps the innovation coming. This composition, another fusion number, is composed by Bryant.
Moxie Inside is full of bright groove and attitude that leaves us with a fresh and current feeling as it mixes funk grooves with a hip-hop feel or two, and features the virtuostic Bryant on saxophone for both melody and solo, with a groovy solo for Fabian.
The album closes with iconic drummer Victor Lewis’ composition, Hey, It’s Me You’re Talkin’ To. This blazingly fast, virtuosic hard bop tune showcases yet another facet of the group’s virtuosity—their lightning speed interpretation of this composition is as quick and exciting as it is clean. It’s easy for a tune like this to get sloppy or lose its energy and fire, but the group never does—not even through extreme shifts in dynamics. In fact, after an arresting and primal drum solo by Marsalis, the Band comes back in, but at a pianissimo dynamic that is symbolic of the journey this album has taken us on.
The Band has kept us on our toes for all ten tracks, played on our expectations, and surprised us through and through. With a closing tune like this, one expects the song to end with a bang, but it ends quietly. Nonetheless, even the quiet ending carries the fire of the tune and the entire album through with it, causing the listener to be left feeling wowed by the album and the group.