Force For Good
World Galaxy/Alpha Pup Records
Buy Here | Listen Below
Los Angeles based trombone player Ryan Porter—one of a few uncredited instigators of this current Jazz renaissance—always records music, that speaks to, not at, all people. Back in 2014, he, along with Kamasi Washington, Miles Mosley, and the assorted members of West Coast Get Down—tagged as the Wu-Tang Clan of jazz—were not evangelizing from an amplified global platform. Nope. These brothers were deadlocked in hustle mode. Shuttling from booked studios across various citywide locations. Recording songs from 10:00 am to 3:00 pm. Sheet music and general instructions were present, but the stage tested ideas got recorded too, amidst the three-take rule instituted for each composition.
From these do or die sessions, Force For Good, Ryan Porterʻs follow up to 2018ʻs The Optimist, came to life. Itʻs an unflinching time capsule, where these NEW ambassadors of rhythm, connect America's consequential art form to "LIT" ears.
Teetering on the verge of unbreakable, we hear Porter, cooking up-to-date compositions, employing different methods, and creating space for others to sit at the Jazz table. With its title inspired by remarks that John Coltrane made during an interview in the ‘60s, these tunes move with a spiritual connection in mind. Which fits. For all intents and purposes, you can say this is partly a WCGD record as well. Grand or minuscule, the songs retain communal earnestness among the players. Honestly, Washingtonʻs records, which the same folks play on, own a heightened spiritual essence built of a thunderous wizard-like energy. Washington dominates like a wrecking ball of righteousness, consistently blowing doors off. Expanding Minds. Porter approaches from inner connectivity most of the time.
Similar to "Deja Vu" from Porter's last record, "Blame It On The Sun," his cover of the 1972 Stevie Wonder ballad, uses that honeyed tone and leathery trombone to beam out an inviting magnetism that catches listeners dead in their feelings, making your Aunties joints, damn poignant. Both arrangers, who benefit from having access to the best players on the planet, Jazz or otherwise, push each other. This inventiveness characterizes how a new lot of culture bearers constructed a path for themselves, amidst L.A.’s emergence as an oasis of progressive soul experimentation. Establishing their sound between the sun-kissed creations of Dam-Funk and the prog, fusion, IDM universe of Flying Lotus. Why canʻt L.A. become the center of a Jazz Renaissance? Well, it did.
2014 became WCGDʻs jam. Sparking Kendrick Lamar's critically acclaimed LP To Pimp A Butterfly as well The Epic, Kamasi Washingtonʻs triple-album masterstroke that put soul, funk and church music back in the improvisational idiom. Force For Good came together right in the middle of all that acknowledgment, reeling from the momentum, it catches these players locked in.
The original tune “Mesophere” taps an evergreen-Charlie Brown finds Prozac-Vince Guaraldi charm. No seriously, it's vibey and throwback all at once. Featuring Washington, who opts for delicateness on the soprano sax, coloring the doughy chord structures on Fender Rhodes by Brandon Coleman. That type of mysticism ensues on "Carricou,” the cooker of a ten-minute workout that delivers a polyrhythmic tribute to Calypso music and West Indian Caribbean culture. Seven minutes in, Stephen “Thundercat” Bruner, using his emblematic doubling and tripling back rapid finger bass work reminds everybody, he still got those chops.
The reworked Charles Stepney piece "Memory Band" ditches the carnival-esque Rotary Connection version Q-Tip fell in love with and then sampled for Tribe’s "Bonita Applebaum." Porter's chart gives it an old-world jazz reading, where pianist Brandon Coleman executes these gallant, subdued runs suggestive of Errol Garner. Other compositions that run longer and looser, such as the funk-strut of "World on Wheels," gives bassist Mosley agency to run his acoustic bass through an effects pedal, committing to record the shock-a-delica presentation thatʻs been winning over concert halls for a minute.
All of these moments are the result of Porter, who back in 2008 started The Optimist sessions by cramming his dudes in Washington’s parents’ garage—a stinky hot as balls shack under the LAX landing strip—to record arrangements based on hip-hop, gangsta rap, ’70s soul, funk, and R&B. In hopes of establishing connectivity among various music fans, not just dusty old jazz folks. This soundtrack to his childhood and contemporary Black culture, set in motion the forward-thinking, bustling and legit modern Jazz scene we have trending today.
Notable Tracks: "Blame It On The Sun" | “Carricou” | "Mesophere" | “World On Wheels”