I landed on this album because of the cover art. With Nipper in a bite cone staring at the Hi-Fi. It’s gotta be good.
Jacob Zimmerman is a Seattle-based saxophonist and clarinetist who’s been earning high praise in festival lineups for playing skillful small group swing. He also plays for dancers with a variety of bands at swing events throughout the world. On his own albums he specializes in jazz styled on the creative explosion at the cusp of swing and bop. His 2015 album Recording Ban alludes to the period at play.
His latest album, More of That, is jazz of the highest order. An album for musicians with due consideration for the dancers in the crowd. The title is a play on “Mack the Knife(Moriat)”. That’s fitting, there is a lot of “See what I did there?” waiting for the deep listener.
Zimmerman is joined by his Pals; Matt Weiner-bass, Josh Roberts-guitar, Ray Skjelbred-piano, D’Vonne Lewis-drums, Cole Schuster-guitar, and Christian Pincock-trombone. The instrumentation varies throughout with piano and drums each on roughly half the titles. Merideth Axelrod joins the group with a vocal on the closing track, “I Ain’t Got Nobody”.
There are several excellent originals including the title track and the opener “Radiator”. “First Thursday” is the theme from Zimmerman’s first Thursday gig at a local jazz club. It has a welcoming tone and you can see how a crowd could come to eagerly expect it each month. “Sculpt-O Sphere” deserves special mention. Described as “What if Lester Young and Thelonious Monk composed a tune together…” you can feel the joy the musicians share in the exercise and Ray Skjelbred gets to shine. Skjelbred also composed one of the originals, “The Blues for Sir Charles”, in honor of Sir Charles Thompson.
Familiar titles include a marvelous “Ballin the Jack” which comes as a perfectly timed pick me up to an album that features subtle passages. Other titles you might not expect are a dark “Brother Could You Spare a Dime?” with some excellent guitar work and “In a Shanty in Old Shanty Town” which is a beautiful, danceable, gem. “Song of the Islands” has a breezy sway and is a regular part of their live performances.
“Blue Guaiac Blues” was a highlight, building heat that crumbles into a focus on Skjelbred at the piano. These are the artistic maneuverings that demand repeated listening. It’s amazing what they manage to bring out of tracks all clocking in under four minutes. I’d highly recommend this album to anyone who enjoys a deep listen, and especially musicians looking for inspiration.