The term “smooth jazz” often comes with all sorts of expectant sonic baggage, conjuring pictures of cliched lounge acts and ambient lift music, at least to those who haven’t explored the genre enough or discovered where its real charms lie. Exploring any new genre is about finding the artist and the music which best typifies it, best displays its core tenets, which is the perfect example of, perhaps, its unique selling points. Jason LaPierre is exactly what potential smooth jazz converts as well as are established fans are looking for.
All In My Head is a gorgeous blend of deftly chosen jazz chords, hushed and soulful deliveries and a supporting cast of musicians who, despite their obvious talents, are happy to serve the song and play only what is required. So yes, it is smooth jazz but contrary to misguided, though perhaps popular belief, it has plenty to offer. It crackles with energy, glides elegantly through its mellifluous moves and leaves plenty of space for instruments to coil around each other, to advance and retreat as required, to meander between confident structures and delicate peripheral playing.
Even at 24 Jason has a wealth of experience under his belt. He is a teacher and multi-instrumentalist and has trodden the boards in many musical guises and forms. It is such a wide range of exposure which clearly fuels his music, music which seems to get the most done with the fewest and most essential notes and notions. Music which proves that “less is more” is a cliche because cliches are indeed true. Music which is more about texture and emotion than technique and technicality…though that is obviously present by the ton, it’s just that such eloquence and expertise is a means to an end here. (Which is as it should be.) Music which is rich and gorgeously realised, gentle and forged of finesse.
This is one of those songs which quickly grows on you. I mean, it’s easy company right from the start but the more time that you spend in its world of reserve and restraint, the more the song reveals itself to have wonderful hidden depths to match its soothing shallows. With each play you discover new, half-buried textures, a shimmering piano-line drawing the ear, a distant vocal harmony colouring the edges, tasteful percussive punctuation, bass lines which pop and pulse in all the right places and that whispered and intimate vocal feeling more ever more personal.
All In My Head sits at a perfectly positioned place, a crossroads where the accessibility, which jazz isn’t always associated with, meets an almost ambient infectiousness and where the deftness which the band clearly demonstrate is informed by a delicacy. It is not so much about leaving gaps in the playing but rather filling those spaces with gentle layers of individually unobtrusive sounds but which when added together create beautiful textured sounds, subtle and supple sonics.
Smooth jazz, it’s a lot smarter than you might realise! (If anyone wishes to buy the rights to that slogan, feel free to message me!)