When Blue Note Records released Eric Dolphy's Out to Lunch! in 1964, they probably did not imagine the album would one day become a jazz classic. However, it remains one of the most influential jazz albums and, in 2022, it was reissued in the Blue Note Classic Vinyl series. In 2019, Posi-Tone Records tapped into the spirit of Dolphy's album with Out To Dinner's Different Flavors. This album proved successful enough for a second release, Play On, in 2021. The series continues with another very cool offering, Episodes Of Grace.
Each Out To Dinner release features slightly different personnel with the ever-present Behn Gillece on vibes and Boris Kozlov on bass. Episodes Of Grace sees the return of Rudy Royston who played drums on Different Flavors. Also featured are Patrick Cornelius on saxophone and Ryan Keberle on trombone.
Out To Dinner does not try to recreate the avant-garde sound of Dolphy's recording, instead using some of its flavors for their own special recipe. Gillece's vibraphone work and Kozlov's bass provide the foundation for what has become the Out To Dinner sound. Each of the other players adds their particular musical ingredients, resulting in a satisfying mixture of melody and improvisation.
As on the previous Out To Dinner releases, the musicians featured on Episodes of Grace are all amazing talents. Cornelius and Keberle, for example, lay down some tasty solos, which prove their status as top jazz performers. And while there are no leaders per se, Gillece's vibraphone stands out as perhaps the essential element in their sound.
All the songs were written by members of the group, except for Victor Feldman's, "Joshua." The compositions featured here successfully blend tradition with modernity. Songs such as "The Last Corner" or "Hollow Men" add just the right amount of experimentation while still being accessible to mainstream jazz listeners. Compositions such as the title track or "Precious Moments" are beautiful melodies which could easily be incorporated into any set of jazz standards.
Episodes Of Grace dishes up another excellent serving for the Out To Dinner series. As producer Marc Free explains, this music seeks "to enlist the ears of a new group" of listeners while expanding the "aesthetic sensibilities" of traditional audiences." As with the other Out To Dinner releases, Episodes Of Grace is a recipe worth adding to your collection.
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