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A veteran of ensembles led by trombonist Steve Davis, trumpeter Jeremy Pelt and saxophonists Julieta Eugenio and JD Allen, drummer Jonathan Barber also leads his own band, Vision Ahead. The band’s third album Poetic puts forth a warm jazz fusion sound based on R&B and the classic thrum of the Fender Rhodes. Barber and electric pianist Taber Gable join forces with bassist Matt Dwonszyk, saxophonist Godwin Louis and guitarist Andrew Renfroe for tunes that emphasize melody over improvisational flash. Louis’ “Now and Forever,” Gable’s “Acceptance” and Barber’s title track lay out a unified vision of soulful grooves and lush tones without sinking into smooth jazz mush – the bite of Renfroe’s guitar solos and the penchant for Gable to drift “out” on some of his solos match Barber’s busy kit work to keep the tracks percolating. With Gable accenting the melodic structure and Barber keeping the rhythms on “propulsion” at all times, Vision Ahead makes Poetic as refreshing as a glass of ice water after a long drive.
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