JazzWord review by Glenn Astarita

John Hebert Trio – Spiritual Lover (CF 175)
Bassist John Hebert and his venerable band-mates generally reside within the core progressive-jazz and free-jazz realms.  And many of these genres or stylizations are represented here, although there is a twist.  Featuring Benoit Delbecq’s s wily clavinet and synth performances, Hebert leads the trio into an unorthodox string of musical events, starkly evident on the opener “Spiritual Lover.”  Here, the keyboardist’s sparse, single note clavinet notes and electronics treatments cast a mood that is akin to an ethereal lullaby.  However, diversity is part of the musicians’ key to success.

Delbecq also uses an acoustic piano as the band delves into free-spirited world-music patterns and other movements that are designed with delicacy or quietly rumbling undercurrents.  The musicians’ intersperse playfully haunting motifs with quaint melodies and sinewy lines.  Hebert’s broad and fluent bass phrasings offer a bit of counterpoint, other than solidifying the rhythms with drummer Gerald Cleaver.  Moreover, the artists pronounce wit and a semi-strenuous approach.

The band renders a misty-eyed ballad, abetted by Delbecq’s light touch on “La Rêve Eveillé.”  Yet Delbecq executes a gravelly and echo-laden synth groove atop the rhythm section’s swarming pulse during “Here’s That Rainy Day.” Consequently, Delbecq projects a nouveau spin on the clavinet, looming as a facet that tenders a fresh outlook, or a new wine in old bottles type game-plan. Simply stated Hebert and associates inject lucid imagery and a deeply-personalized set of characterizations, spiced with enticing panoramas throughout this intriguing session.

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