Album Remarks & Appraisals:
Sure enough, Clayton delivers on that promise with the driving second composition, "Future Reflection," notable for its charging horn and voice charts, zigzagging passages and Clayton's suspenseful yet well-paced solo. The same sort of exhilarating sweep appears on "Some Always" and "Shadamanthem." In other places, the music either quells - allowing listeners greater opportunity to focus on Clayton's piano mastery, as on the quicksilver trio outing "Sir Third" - or decelerates, as on the glowing "Dusk Baby," featuring Vasandani's sanguine vocals.
The disc closes with the same gist of eminence, with the stark ballad "When an Angel Sheds a Feather," featuring a bracing duet between Vasandani and Parlato, followed by a swinging hidden track enlivened by Stephens' fantastic tenor work. Life Forum signals a new chapter in Clayton's still-early career as a leader, especially in terms of his compositional reach. And it suggests that there are even greater things to come.
Personnel: Gerald Clayton (vocals, piano, Fender Rhodes piano, organ); Sachal Vasandani, Gretchen Parlato (vocals); Carl Hancock Rux (spoken vocals); Logan Richardson (alto saxophone); Dayna Stephens (tenor saxophone); Ambrose Akinmusire (trumpet); Justine Brown (drums).
Audio Mixer: Seth Presant.
Liner Note Author: Gerald Clayton.
Recording information: Sear Sound, New York, NY (10/01/2012-10/03/2012).
Photographer: Devin DeHaven.
Pianist Gerald Clayton's third studio album follows up his acclaimed 2011 release, Bond: The Paris Sessions. Where last time Clayton focused primarily on a trio sound, on Life Forum he expands his musical palette by arranging for a full ensemble of musicians including such jazz luminaries as trumpeter Ambrose Akinmusire, saxophonists Logan Richardson and Dayna Stephens, and vocalists Gretchen Parlato and Sachal Vasandani, as well as bassist Joe Sanders and drummer Justin Brown. While still rooted in the post-bop jazz tradition, Clayton pushes the boundaries of jazz on Life Forum, exploring ever more expansive ways to play improvised music.