“Elemental” is anything but elementary
Low end powerhouse and former Yellowjacket backbone, Jimmy Haslip collaborates with pianist, composer, arranger and educator Otmaro Ruíz and virtuosic rhythm guru Jimmy Branly for a project that is a perfect mix of composition and broad audience appeal. Mastered by Grammy nominee Rich Breen (Herbie Hancock, Norah Jones, Peter Erskine, Charlie Haden and more), "elemental" is a current jazz classic bringing elements of old and new to keep fans on their toes.
Grammy nominee Otmaro Ruíz (2016), composer of most of the "elemental" tracks, holds an honorary doctorate from Shepherd University and has played with all the modern greats...Gino Vannelli, John McLaughlin, Tito Puente, Steve Winwood, John Patitucci, Vinnie Colaiuta just to name a few. Mr. Ruíz is regarded as one of the most sought-after keyboardists on the scene yet still finds time for teaching. He is a frequent guest clinician at Los Angeles Music Academy and Musician's Institute.
Jimmy Branly is from Cuba and began his studies at the Conservatory of Music in Havana Adolfo Guzman and ENA (National School of Art). Mr. Branly also has played with greats from all genres including Colin Hay, Abraham Laboriel, Michael Nezmith, John Patitucci, Doc Severinsen, Ricky Martin, Andy Garcia, Natalie Cole, Gloria Estefan, Emilio Estefan. He performed at The White House in 2013 a Latin presentation for President Obama.
Jimmy Haslip was a founding member and 32 year band mate of The Yellowjackets. Mr. Haslip has been nominated for 22 Grammy awards and has won 3. Over his 50+ years of playing, he has contributed to the biggest names in music over a plethora of genres (Jeff Lorber, David Sanborn, Jerry Garcia, Bruce Hornsby, Chaka Khan, Allan Holdsworth, Oz Noy to name a few)
"Elemental" opens with "A Good Start" and right out of the gate leaves listeners slack-jawed. The high energy mover leads with dramatic injections from both Mr. Branly and Mr. Ruíz. These lyrical jabs give way to a simple, soaring melody on keyboards that establishes the emotional trajectory for the rest of the song. The trio brings the audience up then down then back up again all the while compelling exquisite anticipation. The troupe rewards in the end with a crescendo of harmonic punches as "A Good Start" gives way to "Greed".
"Greed" leads with a coy, sly keyboard melody that is enticing. Mr. Branly and Mr. Haslip jump in quickly in a way that are both supportive and improvisational. The listener is left with a slightly uneasy feeling as the rhythm's presence rolls up and down and moves from support to spontaneous until Mr. Haslip steps out with a subdued but perfect solo. Mr. Branly rounds things out and brings it in as Mr. Ruíz's keyboards sail home.
"Elemental" is a fusion of the most talented jazz artists of our time. More than that, though, the resulting sound is clearly greater than the sum of it's parts. When asked to comment on the compilation, Otmaro Ruíz thought carefully and stated simply, "Music for All". Indeed...music for all.