Sure doesn't seem like there's much in the way of jazz coming out of Charlotte these days, but when you do come across it, it's usually worth taking note. Enter The Jordan Klemons Trio. While centered around the guitar work of Klemons, bassist Ron Brendle and drummer Curtis Wingfield fill out the trio on the band's debut album, New Road.
The nearly nine-minute title track cruises slowly through sparse soundscapes until Klemons unleashes his psychedelic side in twists and turns. Drums set "Plip" into frantic elasticity before settling down into the guitar's spacy exploration as it builds toward a crescendo. The band gets more playful as the eight-track (seven original), 53-minute album goes on, finding exploratory ground that allows each member to find his groove and express his personality. There are also avant-garde hints and teases, usually done via Klemons' fretwork. He offers off-kilter scales as the drums and bass race behind him on "Cigarettes and Rose." A splash of '60s funk seems to influence the intro and backbeat to "I Wanna Chill with Bear Grylls" before Klemons goes wandering off on his own singling out notes and sprinkling chords across the top when needed.
The album shows plenty of sides to the band's personality before things finally calm back down with the closer, an arrangement of Joe Zawinul's "Midnight Mood." While Klemons is clearly in the spotlight, he handles it with humility and restraint letting the songs find their way and never forcing an issue, or his guitar, to the forefront without it serving a purpose. Check out the band live at the CD release party at Roux in NoDa on March 25 at 6 p.m.
Independent; Release date: March 25, 2012