2023 is shaping up to be a great year for pleasant musical surprises. A case in point is Ceremony, a charming piece of work that possesses a light easy breezy feel with humour, gusto, and melodious verve. It is filled with witty musical clues and references that are offered as a constant icing on very tasty cake baked by a very able band. A Chicago-based jazz trio led by bassist Joe Policastro featuring guitarist Dave Miller and drummer Mikel Avery. While firmly rooted in jazz, the band’s open-minded inclusive nature also brings rock, old-school funk, soul, brazilian, and free improvisation to the surface while still keeping the aesthetic of an acoustic trio intact.
Ceremony contains homages to some well-known tunes alongside original material. The title track is an ingenious combination of Erik Satie’s Gymnopédie No 1 intertwined with New Order’s original Ceremony from 1981. And though it sounds pretentious when described, the originality of it all works without a trace of irony or pretention. Mojave Lifeline contains a riff that could have been written by Creedence Clearwater Revival, while track 5 is version of little known Thelonious Monk tune Brilliant Corners. There’s also is a very interesting rendition of Roy Orbison’ Blue Bayou, a song that was for Linda Ronstadt way back in the ‘70s.
The recording is fantastic, smooth analogue’ish with great bass speed and clarity, placing the listeners in a small studio next to the musicians that are accurately etched in space behind the speakers, creating the illusion of them being right there.
The album will be available for download on Bandcamp and other outlets towards the middle of the month, don’t miss the opportunity to hear it.