Phil Sargent takes to the strings with electrifying precision, producing music that is both elegant and exhilarating with his new record A New Day.
The guitarist is scary good, combining textures from Balkan music and rock with a jazz foundation to achieve a complex, stylish sound that has few comparisons in the industry.
On top of possessing ridiculous guitar chops, Sargent also serves as composer and arranger. A New Day is filled to the brim with his inventive work, the seven tracks balancing varying forms with complex structures and tight delivery.
Sargent’s guitar is joined by vocalist Aubrey Johnson, drummer Mike Connors and bassist Greg Loughman. Also along for the ride are guest pianists Brian Friedland and the incredible John Funkhouser.
A New Day is a rich collection of balanced, exciting tunes that push the group to new limits. Sargent’s compositions glide along fine lines, clearly designed for the voices within his particular quartet. His use of expansive, broad melodies gives room for air, while his more complex arrangements seem designed exclusively to provide platforms for his group’s performances.
The title track is a tour de force of winding, shifting cadence and brave climaxes. Sargent is subtle at first, underlining Johnson’s vocals tenderly before his vocalist adventurously chooses another route. The funk and swing takes full effect, giving each member a chance to shine. Funkhouser’s piano impressively dots and crosses all the right letters.
Sargent isn’t afraid of a little interplay either, showcasing his group’s dynamic on “Gridlock.” The piece is a slow, calming, involved construction of unity.
Sargent’s shifts through influences remain evident on each individual piece on A New Day. Unafraid of using the effects pedals, he plays with an energy and exuberance rarely heard. Equal with other modern explorers of jazz guitar like Ben Monder and Kurt Rosenwinkel, Sargent’s command of his instrument goes without saying.
A New Day is a tremendous opportunity for fans of the craft to experience one of the genre’s up-and-coming talents. The songs are exciting and boundary-pushing, serving as cogent examples of Sargent’s ability both as a guitarist and as a pure composer. His sense of adventure is apparent with each note.
Article originally published as Music Review: Phil Sargent – A New Day at Blogcritics.org