FAME Review: Chris Massey & the NJP - Whosoever
Chris Massey & the NJP - Whosoever


Chris Massey & the NJP

Power Cosmic Records - PCR8131

Available from CD Baby.

A review written for the Folk & Acoustic Music Exchange
by Mark S. Tucker

Chris Massey is a drummer, but he's one of those skinspounders who knows damned well exactly what's going on in every aspect of music and not only applies his section of the ensemble with grace, definition, and complementarity but also writes with enviable aplomb. The opening song here, Whosoever, is his, and he puts it through its paces so well that I was gravely disappointed when it faded out after seven minutes, just as it was preparing to enter a whole new phase. That, of course, only whetted the appetite for more.

Famed and usually on-the-money critic Bill Milkowski calls Massey a "powerhouse drummer", but I'm afraid I have to disagree. Chris is a musician, so much so that his solo in Whosoever is an unusual demonstration of taking his stated place in the number and stretching context while demonstrating what's too often missing in percussives nowadays: utilization of the sonorities available to intelligent drum work beyond the customary timekeeping, emphatics, and punctuation. He repeats this again in Coltrane's Giant Steps, minimally within a truncated take on that usually greatly expanded standard. All drummers drum, that's a given, but very few make music, rather than just support it, and Massey is one of those.

The duet horn section of Adam Larsen (tenor sax) and Benny Benack II (trumpet) interlocks and then trades off solos well as bassist Chris Talio favors a sparer approach which, to these ears, works beautifully, pointillistically, leaving plenty of room for each note to be appreciated, kind of like a more thoughtful Ron Carter. Pianist Wilerm Delisfort tends to Bill Evans but also Impressionism, with Debussy-esque classicalities (picture Claude with shades and a cigarette hanging out of his mouth after a night with Toulouse at the Can-Can) within restraints well charted by Massey. This band, in other words, functions as whole…not, mind you, that I have any problems with ensembles solo-ing their rears off, but well-disciplined arrangements are just as delectable, and that's what you get here.

Track List:

  • Whosoever (Chris Massey)
  • Crooked Creek (Jon Cowherd)
  • Giant Steps (John Coltrane)
  • Old Devil Moon (Burton Lane)
  • Warriors Three (Chris Massey)
  • Return of the Jitney Man (Jeff "Tain" Watts)
  • Onyx Guardian (Chris Massey)
  • Pedal Up (Rahsaan Roland Kirk)

Edited by: David N. Pyles

Copyright 2013, Peterborough Folk Music Society.
This review may be reprinted with prior permission and attribution.
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