If there’s one thing that Project Grand Slam is known for other than their profound skillset no matter the featured lineup, it’s their enthusiastic live performances. The energy is half the allure when they take the stage – the other half, of course, is the dexterity with which they adapt their material for the stage, and in the new single “I’m Falling off of the World,” we get one of their best (and ironically most controlled) live showings to date.
This track was recorded in studio, but it sports a fast-paced intensity from the band more accustomed to what you would demand out of a club gig where there’s nothing to hold these players back. This isn’t the isolated COVID-era pseudo-live performance that a lot of Project Grand Slam’s contemporaries have been issuing over the past two years, but instead something that feels like an excerpt from a collective rehearsal in which new ideas are openly explored. Robert Miller has always led a tight ship, but it’s in this single where we start to realize how much he’s able to let go with these particular players in the studio beside him.
Listen to I’m Falling off of the World – Live on Spotify. Project Grand Slam · Song · 2022.
The foundations of this arrangement are pretty impeccable, with the bassline Miller is slinging serving as a good balancer for the rhythm set forth by the drums. It doesn’t take more than a good thirty seconds for the track to find its signature swagger, and I’d argue that this version of “I’m Falling off of the World” feels more brutish than the original did because of the eagerness all of the players are displaying here. The guitar and the sax are in a duel from the start, but it never erupts into the flow of the verses – this singer just has too much power over the beat to be interrupted. I like that the vocal is set apart from the rest of the groove, as it needs to be for the words to have the weight they do. There isn’t much this band isn’t capable of delivering in this song, and yet their willingness to push the beat and the melodies a little further than they have to doesn’t necessarily translate as being overindulgent.
I’ve admittedly been a big fan of Project Grand Slam for a few years now, but I don’t believe this song appeals to the group’s serious followers alone. The caliber of skill that’s coming into this performance is enough to give any music fan some chills and compared to what their closest rivals in the underground have been offering in place of live shows through the pandemic, this is by far some of the most tonally bold content I’ve heard in a while. It might feel like a love letter to the PGS faithful, but at the end of the day “I’m Falling off of the World” is an exhibition of talent and dedication more than anything else, which is something students of the jazz-fusion school everywhere should be able to appreciate and celebrate this year.