John Book, Music For America
The future of jazz is in good hands with people like Brandi Disterheft
Bassist Brandi Disterheft has played music pretty much all of her life, playing with her mom, and eventually studying with some of jazz music's greats. She opened up for a number of respected artists, and now plans to open up the world by letting people know that it's Disterheft time. In honor of one of her musical influences, Bjork, she calls her debut album Debut (Superfran).
The first paragraph of this review sounds and looks a bit like a bio, so I'm going to try to get away from that. Disterheft is a young bassist who plays with the soul of someone twice or three times her age. When you hear her play, she does so with incredible timing and space, which is noticable in the opening track, "Pennywort". You know it's jazz, but it does not sound anything like a traditional jazz standard. The tempo and mood changes a number of times within the song's duration, in one part sounding like a melodic Radiohead section, other times sounding like an obscure Charles Mingus French radio broadcast. She is surrounded by an incredible set of musicians too, including Nathan Hiltz (guitar), Sly Juhas (drums), David Virelles (piano), Adrean Farrugia (piano), Chris Gale (tenor saxophone), and Alexander Brown (trumpter), and when they are on lock down, you swear you're hearing something from the Blue Note catalog circa 1962. There are moments when you can truly hear Disterheft and Juhas communicate while a piano solo caresses the soundscape, but then Juhas starts getting a bit into the Elvin Jones-style of playing, where you know he's keeping the rhythm, but he feels like taking the scenic route and starts playing in a fashion which goes around the piece.
With an obvious love of jazz as a whole, one of the more striking things about her debut album is the fact that all of the songs are her own compositions. Some jazz critics may want to hear how she tackles the old standards, to hear her new perspective of the old. Once you hear her play, and the arrangements involved, it's obvious she's telling the world "this is about me, so you're going to hear me". She may not be that cocky in person, but in her music, there's a bit of confidence which shows that she not only knows what she's doing, but she's willing to take all challenges that come her way. The jazz core is there, but her other influences are incorporated into her music, like a sponge that takes in anything and releases them in the name of jazz. Like Mingus, you are overwhelmed by how solid these musicians sound together, and then you focus on why things are so "together". This may be her Debut, but it sounds like a musician who has been releasing music for the last twenty years, I can only imagine what she'll be playing and composing in 2027. The future of jazz is in good hands with people like Brandi Disterheft, a job well done. Hana hou.