The art of listening, whether on the bandstand or in daily life, is a highly underrated skill. As Kidd Jordan continues his formidable yet underappreciated career, his playing shows more and more how much he values listening to and complementing his fellow players. This has always been evident in his music, but now it has come to the forefront. On his new record, the appropriately titled On Fire, Jordan spends a good part of the time weaving in and out of the playing of drummer Warren Smith and bassist Harrison Bankhead with slower, more lyrical saxophone lines that complement, not overwhelm the other members of the trio.
On the track “The Evil Eye,” he plays short motifs that build to dense textures against which Bankhead can base melodies. When Smith plays his vibraphone on the beautiful track “We Are All Indebted to Each Other,” he and Jordan give the music a pretty, ethereal sound that would be right at home on a late 1960s Blue Note recording.
For those fans of Jordan’s more extreme playing, there are still some great passages where Jordan demonstrates that he plays that style better than anyone. It’s not for nothing that in 2003 he released an album called No Compromise. However, this album maintains the balance between both styles and should be heard by jazz fans everywhere.