Corey King and Jamire Williams make a great pair. The dopeness of Williams’ 2012 release, Conflict of a Man (the album’s “Black Super Hero Theme Song” has been the theme song to “The Line-Up” for years), through his backwards namesake band, ERIMAJ, is accomplished not only because of Williams’ constantly keyed in rumbling on the drums but also because of King’s soulful arrangements. What these two make together, especially with guitarist Matthew Stevens, is always a marvel, and it’s even moreso on King’s adventurous new album, Lashes, out now on Ropeadope.
In turn here, King is out in front, trading in his trombone for providing soft, sensual vocals throughout his eight tracks that don’t calls out for attention. It must be said– Corey King coos. This is all in service of the subtle jams here. The album, just barely over a half hour long, plays out like a fever dream. The synths King are playing here provide waves of electronic sounds that wash over every song. There’s room for expression here but in such a way that doesn’t explicitly lend itself to a jazz sensibility. Of course, this is much the case in this era of musical artistry. King and Co. are reaching here for a larger, broader sound, inspired through his press releases as inspired by the German dance culture, and they’ve accomplished it. These are mood pieces more than attempts to reach into the jazz canon, or any real canon.
As previously noted, seeing this group of musicians together can only solicit smiles. How often have Corey King, Matt Stevens, Jamire Williams, Vicente Archer, Alan Hampton, and Justin Tyson played together in assorted groups? Supporting other leaders? How often have they jumped on one another’s projects? They’re not exactly a collective (more a clique, but one of the cool, totally not snobby cliques), but they’re comfortable compatriots who know how malleable their assorted sounds and influences are. Here in particular, there’s the full knowledge that they can all rock out (Matt Stevens certainly does on penultimate track “Climb”). He knows they can sound like an eerily sexy nursury rhyme on “Uncle Richie”. He knows they can thump like a slow moving rave on the single, “If”. This is an album that intentionally knocks made with musicians who have always played with that sound in previous work, fully getting the opportunity to do so here.
On Lashes, Corey King is an artist who rather succinctly makes an impression. He’s made a half hour of synthpop that doesn’t sound like synthpop, a non-jazz album full of jazz musicians, an R&B album that seems difficult to program into standard R&B radio, and it’s entirely brilliant. It’s an album difficult to define and a complete pleasure to listen to. It’s one of those genreless releases that earns such absence of classification without taking on the pretentiousness. Corey King is too concerned with moving your body and playing music with his friends to worry about any of that other stuff.
Lashes, the new album from multi-instrumentalist/arranger Coreky King, is out now on Ropeadope Music.
Written & Produced by Corey King
Corey King – Vocals, Wurlitzer, Programming, Synths, Tambourine
Matt Stevens – Guitar
Alan Hampton – Bass
Vicente Archer – Bass
Jamire Williams – Drums
Justin Tyson – Drums
Curtis McDonald / Greenwood Studio
Gabe Schuman / The Spacepit
Jesse Singer / Likeminds Studio
Cassidy Peterson / Robert Lang
Mixing Engineer / Liam O’Neil
Mastering Engineer / Nate Wood
Photography / Meg Stacker
Design Art / Stephanie Clarke
Nextbop Editor-in-Chief Anthony Dean-Harris hosts the modern jazz radio show, The Line-Up, Fridays at 9pm CST on 91.7 FM KRTU San Antonio and is also a contributing writer to DownBeat Magazine and the San Antonio Current.