A lot of Velocity’s Displacement Over Time sounds like Level 42’s jazz-funk, definitely The Early Tapes stuff from 2000, but heavy on modern experimentation and Cliff Colón’s big boss sax, minus the Metheny vocal arias.
Recorded this past summer, the four-man Seattle band makes something happen on every one of the nine original tracks without saying a word. The general vibe of Velocity’s second major album is hard-driving, groove-oriented, extroverted jazz.
The idea behind the extroverted jazz bordering on R&B funk fusion is a lot more complicated than that. The band members put quite a bit of thought behind the hip. Physics, in fact.
“In physics, velocity is defined as being the total displacement over a period of time divided by the time. Displacement is the distance from where you started to where you are now. Time is the measurable period during which an action, process, or condition exists or continues,” found in the band’s promo. “In music, Velocity is a Tacoma, WA-based quartet that draws its musical lineage from a variety of musical styles ranging from jazz, funk and fusion. The music combines hard-hitting grooves and hook melodies with open improvisation. Many aspects of the physics definition of velocity is constantly weaved into the energetic original compositions, written by keyboardist Peter Adams. Common time is uncommon with Velocity. Elements of rhythmic hemiola and counterpoint melodies are commonly fluctuating in conjunction with another. However the music is always grooving and is fundamentally adventurous in its displacement.”
What matters more is the steady, sure, yet laidback attack (if that makes sense) of these musicians on instrumentals that wrap around the listener like an earworm in the best sense.
Pianist/songwriter Adams, saxophonist/co-arranger Colon, drummer/co-arranger Brian Smith, and bassist Rob Hutchinson give a group pulse to every funked-out track, as if they were on a mission to extract the full consequences of dreaming big — as both engineers and artists. They seem to almost OC-D on every possible melody from even the most minor fragment of elicit inspiration.
This Northwest band can cook up a feast on scraps. The meditative, infuriatingly hypnotic “Clarity And Precision” bounces off the same bass riff, as Colon tries to elaborate the rest of the conversation, or squeeze the last vestige of life out of those melodic scraps on a tempo best served on the run.
“Generator” features bassist/songwriter Rob Hutchinson fumbling over the climax and another infectious rhythm genuflecting off Velocity’s hard-driving momentum.
The alliteration continues on the last, romantic track, “Penrose.” Here, Colon articulates his facility and ease around the sax, breaking up the hypnotic, vertical climb with exuberantly emotional, circular dynamics. Peter Adams joins in the circular logic with a happy, heady refrain of his own, calling to mind the Jupiters of many a ‘60s tripping synth bandit.
But the best song off this new album is halfway there, at “Luna.” Again, the band kicks off the proceedings with a snippet of a melody that repeats on a bass-feeling piano before breaking away entirely into this awesomely cool lead-up — all pillows and feathers on Colon and Adams’ gentle acoustic touch — into a Latin salsa-like beat.
“Luna” takes the listener completely by surprise at every turn leading up to salsa night, as the musicians take their time reaching the cliffhanger. The salsa at the halfway point of this halfway point is a delight. The bass fluttering down right after is the sweet kiss at the end of a long, hot day.
“That one is a fun one to play and solo on. It covers a lot of ground,” Colon (McTuff, The Temptations, Doctor Funk, Benny Green) told AXS a few days ago.
Velocity’s Displacement Over Time doesn’t have to be complicated for you to enjoy. Anyone can, whether a jazz fan or a regular Joe. The new album drops in December, available on CD and MP3 downloads. The band also videotaped the recording session, releasing two official videos (“Penrose” and “Mosaic”) in the past two weeks.