Brooklyn Jazz Warriors, In Service of the King (Independent)

Brooklyn Jazz Warriors, In Service of the King, album cover

Oddly enough I was reading about Akhenaten, that revolutionary monotheist sun-worshipping Egyptian pharaoh, when lead singer Yisroel Arye Gootblatt came in singing about the almighty, or at least the transcendent, flashing in the sun. In Service of the King gives you a pretty good clue that Gootblatt means the King of Kings, but Akhenaten’s considered an important forerunner of that King. Reverence and worship shape Gootblatt’s lyrics for sure, but he’s tolerant enough to keep it general, to avoid scripture bashing and to emphasize the light, the exhilaration, the transforming power of faith, instead of damnation—a trick Bob Dylan never quite taught himself.

Funky Meters guitarist Brian Stoltz went north to guide the Warriors—he’s credited with co-production—and his playing weaves in and out of every song, a winding river through forest. Gootblatt holds down the fort with his keyboards as the ensemble plays tricky around the beat in that time-honored manner of “Meters” bands past and present. Horns, where and when they appear, add spice and texture; here’s hoping for more of them the next time out. Bravo for the ensemble. We need more modern-day, up-to-the-minute odes to joy.