Project Grand Slam – Trippin’
The best thing about summer, at least for music enthusiasts like myself, is the massive tidal wave of the releases that the season brings with it. Typically summertime is when we see more output from all genres than any other time of year as artists prepare to embark on vigorous tour schedules to get people excited and invigorated throughout the heat-inspired passion of the three months wedged between spring and autumn. One of the most anticipated albums of the season this year is Trippin’ from jazz virtuoso Robert Miller’s Project Grand Slam, which I had the immense privilege of sampling ahead of its June 29th release date. Featuring the prolific stylings of Miller, vocalist Ziarra Washington, guitarist Tristan Clark, percussionist Guillermo Barron Rios, saxophonist Mario Castro, the incomparable Baden Goyo on keys and Joel E. Mateo on drums, Trippin’ offers some of the most imaginative sounds that the new wave of jazz fusion is brewing up these days, and is led by the enchanting single “Lament,” a song so tremendously epic that it plays out like the jazz equivalent of a Queen song.
Jazz music, especially for art aficionados, is a lot like fine wine in its rich complexities and calculated tones that take a great deal of time to reach their full potential. It’s more than obvious that this group put in a lot of old school, blue collar labor into their newest LP, and “Lament” sort of serves as a signature salutation for newcomers unfamiliar with the character and integrity that Project Grand Slam is becoming legendary for. I’d even go as far as to suggest that this is a great song for people who are new to jazz fusion in general, as its accessibility allows for even the most casual of listeners to be able to enjoy and appreciate the cerebral qualities that make this style of music so fascinating to study.
Materialism and the influence of corporate greed is killing music more than we ever thought it could. As early as the end of the 1950’s, industry pioneers were getting concerned about the corruption of the artistic soul of popular music by external influences, and we’ve seen a downward trend in the last half century that has now resulted in songs about soft drinks being number one hits on the Billboard charts. As someone who came up listening to classic jazz records as a kid, punk rock as a teenager and avant-garde classical music as an adult, I find it a little insulting to our collective intelligence that the establishment thinks that’s all we’re capable of digesting. Thank god for what Project Grand Slam is doing in music right now; we need more artists who are actively taking a clean approach to composing and performing instead of leaning so heavily on financial interests. It doesn’t take big dollars to make an amazing record that will change people’s lives. It does however take big passion, and as long as this group is around, we can count on there still being a little bit of energy to keep the lighthouse beacon lit going into the next era of popular music.