"...this new disc lets [James M. Gregg] shine on an album of original retro-fusion tunes that may remind some of artists from decades past...Gregg is a fiery player who is at home with both rock and jazz idioms, and his band gloms onto this aesthetic with verve." - Kyle O'Brien, Jazzscene
Bridges are a fascinating metaphor for how we shape our lives. We make plans, have dreams, and set goals...so we build bridges to get from where we are now to where we want to be. Sometimes we cross over to the other side and find exactly what we wanted...sometimes we cross and find something totally unexpected...and sometimes we never even start the journey. Occasionally we get halfway across and turn back, and sometimes we simply jump, leaving no question that we’re ready to move on to the next big thing.
“Another Bridge Born” is a musical example of a bridge in the life and musical career of its creator, James M Gregg. Having spent decades bouncing from one musical endeavor to another, looking for an elusive sound that he could define and that would define him, he finally hit on something that truly resonated with his innermost motivations.
With this album, Gregg has finally found what he was looking for.
Equally adventurous and accessible, “Another Bridge Born” has something for everyone - funky, wandering improvisations reminiscent of early-1970s Miles Davis, ethereal pop ballads, hard-driving electric rock and eerie jazz grooves with hints of Balkan, Arabic, and Latin music. Gregg uses the term “fractured beauty” to describe his philosophical approach to his music, finding substance in music that doesn’t apologize for its slight imperfections, that in fact celebrates them as an honest and interesting part of the creative process. A daring and creative work, “Another Bridge Born” demonstrates a creative freedom that eschews the status quo while also embracing the best elements of what has come before.
Gregg, a seasoned jazz musician, has decided to discard conventional jazz wisdom and do his own thing: filtering angry trumpet noises through a myriad of electronic effects one moment, only to revert to subdued and natural whispered tones the next. Neil Mattson channels Bill Frisell throughout, making full use of the tonal palette of his electric guitar and taking a lead role along with Gregg’s trumpet. Collaborator Chris Robley can be heard contributing background threads of electronic noise that lend spacious and eerie textures to the songs. Robley (as producer) and engineer Rob Stroup, both with solid rock and indie-pop credentials, give the entire project a modern and bold sonic quality. All of this is superimposed over the rock-solid foundation created by the extraordinary jazz rhythm section consisting of Andrew Oliver (piano), Sam Howard (bass) and Kevin Van Geem (drums).
Gregg elaborates: “I wanted to see what happened when I got jazz musicians in a room and said ‘make a rock album,’ and a rock engineer and producer in the same room and said ‘make a jazz album.’”
Recorded live in-studio over the span of two days in July 2010 (and with only one 2-hour rehearsal the day before), Gregg’s talented ensemble lays a solid foundation of spontaneity and interplay that almost borders on the psychic at times. “I can’t tell you how many hundreds of times I’ve listened to these tracks July 2010,” he says, “and I still hear some new conversation going on between myself and the guys that I didn’t pick up on before.” After those initial sessions, Gregg, Robley and Stroup spent the winter of 2010 adding more sonic layers to the basic tracks, and brought in a small group of special guests from the Portland music scene and beyond - Shelly Rudolph (vocals), Jane Machamer (congas) and Brad Boynton (timbales) from salsa band Melao De Cuba, and renowned Nashville-based guitarist Darin Favorite (Tracy Lawrence, Pam Tillis, etc.)
“This album is just the beginning,” says Gregg. “I spent a lot of time trying out different musical ideas that just didn’t satisfy my inner urge. This album is my most honest and liberated effort to date, and now that I’m crossing this bridge, I see many more challenges on the horizon!”
JAMES M GREGG QUINTET
James M Gregg - trumpet, keyboards, programming
Neil Mattson - electric guitar
Andrew Oliver - electric piano
Sam Howard - electric & upright bass
Kevin VanGeem - drums
Chris Robley - guitars, keyboards, noise
Brad Boynton - timbales
Jane Machamer - congas
Shelly Rudolph - vocals
Darin Favorite - guitar solo
Rob Stroup - aux percussion