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Matt Geraghty Project - Departures (2011)

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Bassist Matt Geraghty found the perfect name for his new contemporary jazz release, since Departure moves so very far outside of the expectations for labels like “contemporary jazz."

Geraghty opens with a short instrumental piece featuring Ramesh Misra on the sarangi, a bowed stringed instrument from North India, before a gentle piano interlude from Misha Tsiganov seems to point back toward more familiar waters. Not so fast: Ara Dinkjian leaps to the fore with turns on the cumbus and oud, stringed instruments from Turkey and North Africa, respectively. Polish vocalist Anna Maria Jopek is an early presence, as well, singing with a wordless power over five of the initial six songs.

At the same time, there are familiar names from the mainstream jazz community who make notable contributions, including three-time Grammy-winning pianist Gil Goldstein, who appears on three tracks; and trumpeter Avishai Cohen. The self-produced Departures, which finds Geraghty focusing (sometimes loosely) on a travel theme across 12 cuts, has quickly set the stage for an intriguing experiment with world music.

Goldstein is featured on a gentle nostalgic accordion for “Leaving My Woman in Vienna," while Jimmy Webb's “The Moon is A Harsh Mistress," the lone cover on Departures, provides Geraghty an opportunity to draw some ringing, guitar-like sounds out of his bass. “Sunset Streaks the Airplane Wing," one of seven tracks featuring Neal Alger on guitar, boasts a delicate, Pat Metheny-esque beauty. Alger then returns with a muscular riff for the closing “Manhattan in the Three Minutes," a burst of fast-paced swing that features bright turns by Cohen and Tsiganov, this time at the Rhodes.

Throughout, Departures retains a rare listenability for such a brave enterprise. Geraghty is as interesting as he is approachable, something that draws even the uninitiated deeply into these new sounds.

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