• John Van de Mergel

Sounds | John Carroll Kirby, Rainmaker


Ik denk niet dat het zal regenen wanneer je deze chille tune afspeelt. Ben het zelf aan het testen en de zon blijft lekker branden. Lekkere laidback jazz met diverse invloeden, waarbij de muzikanten ruimte krijgen om hun ding te doen. Het nummer en de video zijn al even uit, maar zo kondigen we het nieuwe album even aan.


Septet verschijnt op 25 juni via Stones Throw / PIAS


Luister ook naar: Sensing Not Seeing Blueberry Beads


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In September 2019, John Carroll Kirby brought together a septet to perform at LA’s famed jazz venue The Blue Whale. The energy of the performance inspired him to create a new record, simply titled Septet.

Shortly after the Septet sessions, the world went into lockdown. Kirby stayed busy, releasing My Garden, his Stones Throw debut, in April 2020. Over the course of an anxious year, fans found sanctuary in My Garden’s unique blend of jazz, New Age and exotica, and the album won fans in Pitchfork, The Fader, LA Times, Q and Mojo, and was nominated for an A2IM Libera Award for Best Jazz Album. In 2020 Kirby also spontaneously released the calming piano album Conflict in response to the year’s chaos; collaborated on Eddie Chacon’s comeback album Pleasure, Joy and Happiness, and scored the animated feature Cryptozoo, which won the Next Innovator Award at Sundance’s 2021 festival.

Septet marks Kirby’s return to ensemble playing. As a keyboardist, composer and producer, he’s worked with the likes of Solange, Frank Ocean, and Harry Styles, and played in Blood Orange and Connan Mockasin’s touring bands. Kirby brought this experience as bandleader, arranger and collaborator to the Septet sessions, tailoring his compositions to players' individual personalities. The musicians — Kirby (keyboards), Deantoni Parks (drums), Tracy Wannomae (woodwinds), JP Maramba (bass), Nick Mancini (mallets), Logan Horne (woodwinds), and David Leach (percussion) — laid the album down live in just a few days at 64 Sound Studios in Los Angeles. The result is natural and spontaneous.

Septet arrives at a moment when the Los Angeles jazz scene is thriving, with artists like Sam Gendel, Jamire Williams and Carlos Niño at the vanguard of an ever-shifting sound. It’s a record inspired by the city’s nature and Kirby’s interest in animism, and how these intersect with the modern urban environment.

The song ‘P64 By My Side’, named for the native Los Angeles puma known for crossing freeways, arose from Kirby imagining himself walking through the city with this great cat as his pet. The rhythmic cadence of ‘Rainmaker’ recalls “a rotating sprinkler chugging back and forth across a lawn on a hot day”, while birds and butterflies seen from his window inspired ‘Swallow Tail’. ‘Sensing Not Seeing’ imagines someone running through a forest at night: “Where there would traditionally be an improvised solo, the rhythm section backs a silent instrumentalist, as if wandering through the dark with nothing to guide them.” More fantastical is the closing track, based on an imagined creation myth about “a boy named Nucleo who emerges from the prebiotic broth fully formed and must roam the primordial earth alone.”

Having turned to spirituality after losing his father, who converted to Satanism later in life, Kirby balances introspection and spirituality in his music with a playful touch. Much like Herbie Hancock returning to a more tethered sound on Head Hunters after several albums of celestial music, so on Septet the serene states Kirby explored on My Garden take on a more earthly dimension.


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