by Sylvannia Garutch
Robert Jospé is a veteran drummer and percussionist who currently resides in the state of Virginia. He has seven CDs in his discography and is the leader of the Robert Jospé Trio, Express and the Inner Rhythm band. Jospé has played and recorded with a cornucopia of bands and artist that range in styles from rock to jazz to folk, including collaborations with Tim Reynolds and TR3, John D’earth Quartet, pianists Hod O’Brien and Cyrus Chestnut, guitarist Stanley Jordan, vocalist Bobby McFerrin and John McCutcheon. In 2012, he was awarded artist/educator of the year by the Charlottesville Jazz Society. His latest recording Just Lookin’ with the Robert Jospe Express features, Butch Taylor: keys on all tracks; Dane Alderson: bass on all tracks; John D’Earth: trumpet on the title track “Just Lookin’” and “Round Seven”and Brian Mesko: guitars on “Snowed In.”
“Just Lookin’” sets the tone from the first notes that this is a serious jazz project with heavy weight players. Jospé sets the tune up with his drum set. His pulse is crisp, and his swing is deep. The head harkens back to the Jazz Messangers days with D’Earth’s trumpet delivering the melody with Taylor playing a Rhodes sound that fills the space. The band hits are precise and drive the energy. D’Earth’s solo is powerful with Jospé and Alderson putting a swinging undercurrent down that feels great. D’Earth’s chorus takes the energy even higher. The interaction between Jospé and D’Earth is truly the epitome of how jazz musicians communicate in the moment to build a musical statement that is distinct.
“Snowed In” is an original Jospé composition with a funk-jazz feel. Guitarist Brian Mesko joins the trio for this one. The pocket is big, and the groove is deep. The call and response between Taylor and Mesko are interactive and brings in the element of the blues. The harmony is based in a vamp setting, but the players enrich the sounds with their juxtaposition of various progressions and harmonic colors over the simple yet meaningful progression. Mesko’s funky rhythm part supports Taylor’s solo. Mesko brings in the elements of blues and fusion with his distorted guitar tone and emotional bends. This band has deep pockets and an exuberance of grooving freely.
It’s been since 2014, that Jospé has released a new album, his last, a double CD Classics/ Doin‘ It Up was met with a welcomed response. Just Lookin’ is equally crisp and dynamic. Filled with top-shelf performances and well-penned compositions Jospé proves he still has it. His prowess is still equally primed and as muscular as it was on his first release Inner Rhythm released in 1990. At 69 years young, Jospé is showing no signs of slowing down.