Technocats, Technocats: The Music of Gregg Hill Review
Technocats: The Music of Gregg Hill by Technocats, a jazz group with strong ties to Michigan State University’s jazz studies program. Detroit and its neighboring regions, including East Lansing, have long been fertile grounds for jazz talent. This album by Technocats, a group of Michigan State University-connected musicians, is a fine example of the region’s jazz talents. The ensemble, consisting of guitarist Nathan Borton, trombonist Chris Glassman, pianist Xavier Davis, drummer Michael J. Reed, and bassist Javier Enrique, showcases a blend of experience and youthful energy. Composer and co-producer Gregg Hill’s connection to MSU and his role in the jazz community provide a foundation for the album’s conception and execution.
Technocats: The Music of Gregg Hill explores diverse jazz styles, skillfully navigating through hard bop, neo-soul, Latin, and modern jazz influences. The album starts with “Come On Down,” immediately establishing a hard-swinging tone. Borton’s guitar and Glassman’s trombone create a dynamic call and response, supported by Reed’s swinging drums and Enrique’s bass. The ensemble’s execution brings a lively, engaging feel to the track, showcasing their cohesive interplay and individual talents.
In “Elden’s Bop,” the listener is treated to a bebop-inspired melody with a lively Latin twist. Glassman’s agility on the bass trombone shines, bringing a rarely heard texture to the small ensemble jazz format. Davis’s piano solo flows effortlessly, highlighting his ability to sync with the rhythm section, while Reed’s drum solo adds an exciting cadential flourish.
The fusion of funk and jazz elements in “Go Figure!” demonstrates the album’s versatility. Borton’s guitar solo melds bebop with modern jazz influences, exhibiting a warm, round tone. Davis continues the exploration with a solo that converses beautifully with the ensemble.
“I Want to Live” features an extended intro by Davis, setting the stage for a cool jazz vibe. The interplay between Borton and Glassman is particularly noteworthy, creating a refined, buzzing sound. Glassman’s solo weaves a clear, engaging narrative, followed by Davis’s thematic continuation. Enrique’s bass solo is soulful and melodic, showcasing the depth of Hill’s compositions.
“Inside Straight” introduces a modern swing feel that transitions into a Latin-funk mix. The catchy melody and the lyrical interplay between guitar and bass trombone are highlights. Reed’s drum solo is rich in texture, maintaining the melody’s essence.
Technocats: The Music of Gregg Hill displays well-written music and an outstanding ensemble. Together, they form a cohesive narrative that bridges generations and styles within the jazz genre. Hill’s compositions, while rooted in mid-century jazz, are reimagined for contemporary audiences. The album’s ten tracks are filled with technical virtuosity that also focuses on range, depth, and artistic maturity. This approach could lead to Hill’s tunes becoming new standards in the jazz repertoire.
Technocats: The Music of Gregg Hill reflects the talents and backgrounds of its creators. The ensemble’s interpretation of Hill’s compositions brings a fresh perspective to the jazz scene. The album’s variety in rhythmic feels and emotional flavors, combined with the group’s tasteful and accessible solos, makes it appealing to a wide range of jazz enthusiasts. Gregg Hill’s role as a composer and producer is solidified through this release. The Technocats are an ensemble of considerable range and artistic maturity, showing the vibrancy of the East Lansing jazz scene and its continuing significant contributions to the broader jazz landscape.
Connect with Greg Hill: Website |
Technocats: The Music of Gregg Hill
August 11, 2023
Cold Plunge Records