Clear Water is essentially a duo comprised of trumpeter and DJ Donald Malloy and drummer Matt Vorzimer. Their self-titled debut album was released in 2013 with their second album, “Souls That Matter,” released the following year. Now comes 2015’s “Electricity.”
“Electricity” is a work of sheer brilliance, flowing across boundaries of Jazz and Electronica. More than Miles Davis’ Fusion, beyond Herbie Hancock’s techno-pop, Malloy and Vorimer have rolled over frontiers and preferences and expectations to make you love what you never knew before.
The album explodes from the outset with the title track as a set-up for the rest of the album. A solid beat with electro-voiceovers kicks it all off. Vorzimer’s strident rhythm lays the platform for the productions of Malloy. Malloy then joins in with that amazing trumpet. Two minutes into the album and I was caught for good. Brilliance abounds from the very beginning.
The tonality of Malloy’s horn is rich and Vorzimer is riveting. The switches between the voiceovers and the trumpet leads are perfectly placed. By song’s end, I wanted to hit replay but I also couldn’t wait to hear what was coming next.
“Healing My Soul” features vocals by Sandra Small. I was glad I forged ahead. The productions start off with a downtrodden feeling. When Malloy’s trumpet joins in, the productions become a backdrop for something exciting.
“Healing My Soul” is the shortest track of the album, clocking in a 4:56. The melodic lines are soothing and memorable. Good title for the effects of such a piece.
“Chant” is exactly that or, at least, begins like an electronic chant. The trumpet adds a lyrical quality that then begins to trade-off between chant and trumpet until the trumpet creates a chant of its own.
Something theological was going on here. There is a tug-of-war between recitation and revelation. In a kind of Hegelian Dialectic, a third theme emerges—a synthesis of the thesis and antithesis. This is music to satisfy the heart and the mind. In the end, the coda reintroduces the second theme. Fascinating.
Vorzimer holds the production on “Coral Blankets.” It opens as Electronic Dance Music but, by this time, one has learned to not attempt a prediction of what is to come. That gorgeous trumpet defies and decries predictability. The return effects on the trumpet are cool but, when Malloy breaks away, excitement follows. Add Vorzimer’s drumming and things get riotous.
“Live in Heaven” features Tim Smith on vocals who appears from the beginning. His vocals and vocalizations are a great and meaningful addition to the song.
“Live in Heaven” is a simpler approach to what has gone before but the straight-ahead rhythms and one-dimensional melody work extremely well. Then the trumpet appears and it is heart-stopping. This is vivid, fun stuff.
A great blast from Gabriel’s horn is the opening for “Running on High.” The Sandra Small vocals light it all up with her percussive vocalizations.
Vorzimer is snug in the pocket and Malloy blows down the walls of Jericho. Small keeps the smile on your face every time she sings/speaks.
The recapitulation in the final minute is delicious. It ends as it began—the great blast.
“Live” begins simply with a Gospelesque keyboard that expands fully as the trumpet enhances the whole theme. Crests and troughs follow as the trumpet and drums capture the crests with the simple piano-sounds alternating in the troughs.
It is an understanding of what it is to live, crossing from peak to valley and beyond and being at peace in each place.
“Groner” is a study in unison and in contrasts. Trumpet, productions, percussions all follow a common melodic line.
Malloy breaks off into trumpet leads as the united background continues. He gets stratospheric against the deep groove below. So well-written. Malloy is a composer of staggering originality and intelligence.
Few albums have surprised and excited me as much as Clear Water’s “Electricity.” The virtuosic, tonal beauty of Donal Malloy’s trumpet against the precise and powerful rhythms of Matt Vorzimer are wonderful. Call this music Jazz. Call it Electronica or Dance Music or Techno. It doesn’t matter—it is the work of genius and I love it.
~Travis Rogers, Jr. is The Jazz Owl
Visit Clear Water's website at: http://www.officialclearwater.com/
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