Protean Visions, a jazz quartet based in Fresno, CA, is led by bassist Kevin McDonald, and comprised of Josh McDonald (trumpet, cornet, and FX), Jonathan Hendrickson (piano & keys), and Tony Montañez (drums). They have been playing together since 2007, and in that time have crafted a highly personal sound that fuses East Coast edginess with down home soul – it’s music at the skookumchuck of Post-Bop and Nu-Jazz. One fan described it as “the sound of the Woody Shaw Quartet with ?uestlove!”
Named for Proteus, the shape-shifting prophet from Greek mythology, Protean Visions is an assemblage of musicians with markedly eclectic musical tastes and experiences. Indeed, Proteus is a fitting figure for the band for they shift into and out of different styles while committing to create honest music that compels listeners to probe themselves for truths and emotions that reside just beneath the surface.
Protean Visions has performed with Christian McBride, Geoffrey Keezer, Marvin Stamm, Bill Mays, and Bob Reynolds (saxophonist for Jon Mayer), whom they backed for his October 2007 California dates. The members of the group have performed with Andre Bush, Scott Engelbright, Mary Fettig, Warren Gale, Gordon Goodwin, Conrad Herwig, Kristin Korb, Andy Martin, Mike McMullin, James Miley, Lanny Morgan, Armen Nalbandian, Lennie Niehaus, Mike Olmos, Dave Pietro, Kim Richmond, Tim Ries, Carl Saunders, Eva Scow, Ed Shaughnessy, Bobby Shew, Jim Snidero, Anthony Wilson, and Gerald Wilson.
Protean Visions is proud to announce the release of their first album, WaterColor Bridges (2008). The album features original compositions from each member of the band and a cover of Sam Rivers’ “Beatrice.”
Leader and bassist, Kevin McDonald, wrote three of the album’s originals. The opening track, “Catch,” is an up-tempo bop number with fierce exchanges between drums, trumpet, and piano. “The James Nudey Blues” is a straight-ahead and dirty blues featuring the group in a quasi-trio setting. The album’s title track, “WaterColor Bridges,” serves as their most direct ‘prophetic’ offering. The simple and powerful melody flows into extended solos – a metaphorical nod to the extended release that music offers a listener from the structure of life (the melody).
Trumpeter Josh McDonald contributed two originals, “The Presence of Your Absence: Music for Janna” and “Wachanaw (Brotha Got a Gift).” The former tune was written while reflecting on the Sartrean concept of a present-absence, and is a straight-eighth groove with a mournful and somehow optimistic melody. The rhythm section contributes very emotive solos. The latter tune is reminiscent of Miles Davis’ Second Quintet from in the 1960’s, and features a playful melody contrasted with dense harmonies and a burning tempo. “Content Robot” is drummer Tony Montañez’s contribution. The relaxed melody is strikingly catchy and the modal-esque harmonies spur some of the group’s best playing. The final cut, Jonathan Hendrickson’s “Jazz of All Trades,” juxtaposes McCoy Tyner-ish vamps with mellow, mixed-meter breakdowns. The group displays impressive coordination across the multiple sections and style shifts.