Saturday, November 24, 2018

Indie Music: Rose Ann Dimalanta Trio "It's Time"

by Germar Derron

It's Time does for jazz, what early Kanye did for rap. Take a breath, I'll explain. For all of his issues, and there are many, Kanye brought rap to the masses. It has to be the most popular form of music nationwide, and arguably worldwide (I Googled, it is as of 2017). Kanye made the genre accessible. Listeners could be fans without being "gangstas," but also they could be "gangstas." Fans could be classically trained musicians, beat-boxers, rockstars, or all three. On It's Time, anyone can enjoy the rhythm and feel of jazz without being an intellectual, a musician, or even a music lover. And it's so much more than that.

Overall, Rose Ann Dimalanta Trio provides the best lounge experience--sans smoke (years ago), bad pickup lines, or leaving your home--possible. The album really feels live. Trust me. Most of my life in music is a loop of me in venues mixing jazz combos, for minimum wage. I felt that here. That's hard to do digitally, especially without cheesy applause, and without bringing your recording rig to your live gig. Earlier, I called the project accessible, maybe I meant consumable. No, that doesn't work either. 

"Forever Day by Day" is maybe the best example of what I mean. Clearly, throughout, they are musicians musicians. It's a mature sound. But then here, the chorus kicks in and it transforms into something that is instantly familiar, innately warm and fuzzy. It's a traditional hook in the midst of something more complex and meaningful, and it works.

"10 Miles to Empty" continues what I loved about "Forever Day by Day." It feels light and breezy. Often, talented people take their talent too seriously. In music, that often sounds dark, heavy, technical, and maybe too realistic. But most of us already live complex lives. I like to "feel" cool breezes when I listen to tracks. Here, my ears are super chilly.

Then, immediately on "Dinner for One," the album transitions to the serious. And it's okay. Typically, if I hear keys and a rich lead vocal I tune out. But in this case, it's a nice break from the album's easy breezy opening. Additionally, it's nice storytelling. It's the type of song and subject matter that might have been popular a couple of decades ago. And at the end of the track, they give us what we need--some of that serious musicianship. I could listen to the last minute on repeat for about 30 minutes. Honestly, I wouldn't mind a song or album of just this. "Bartender!"

Ask and ye shall receive. The very next track, "Seven Days" continues the instrumental bliss began on "Dinner for One." And once again I'm at my favorite spot, sipping my favorite drink, even though I'm sitting on my couch with a game on in the background. With no disrespect to rad's vocal, "Seven Days" is the groove that I'll wear down and out.

The amount of genre bending and blending throughout the album displays prowess and versatility. It doesn't seem disconnected or arbitrary. Yes, jazz. Yes, soul. Yes, funk. But more specifically, I'm hearing Michael, Prince, Stevie, and Donnie (not Donny). I like it.

Maybe, some of the credit should go to the mixing engineer. There's an uncommon clarity throughout. I know it's due to a combination of mic placement and selection, EQ, and maybe dynamics processing. But what I feel is a perfect balance. Maybe that's what I like best here. I didn't so much listen or hear--I felt this.


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