Homeland – various artists
Perhaps not knowing such a sense of powerlessness in our nation’s history,
America was at least temporarily united by the events of September 11th. In
unification came an urge to help in whatever way one could. While the pop
music world staged benefit/tribute concerts viewed by millions, leaders in
the jazz community – who can only boast a minuscule percentage of pop’s
market share – also pitched in to help. There was a "Made in America"
concert of unparalleled talent held at New York City’s Town Hall, for which – sadly – seats remained open in December and this release – "a collection of
songs to honor the memory of the victims and their families" – by Jazziz
Judging by the tone of all 16 cuts on the disc, Homeland was designed
restore tranquility. This is a soothing 76 minutes. There aren’t any blowing
sessions; there’s only one horn-based tune for that matter. Instead, and
surprisingly, Jazziz, one of the big three jazz journals in the United
States, largely selected tunes that straddle the line between jazz, new-age
and even folk. That’s not an insult, just surprising. One usually doesn’t
associate guitar with being the genre’s primary instrument but that’s the
this collection gives off. Ultimately, every track on the disc has an
overall calming effect without being schmaltzy.
Many of the tracks are sublime. On "A Map of the World," Pat Metheny again
demonstrates that he’s exquisite on nearly any style he puts his fingers to
frets on. Bassist Dave Douglas, a former Miles Davis sideman, similarly
proves why his outfit is among the best working bands around and provides
the only out-and-out "jazz" on the disc. Metheny returns to duet with
free-jazz bassist Charlie Hayden on the elegant and inspirational "Tears of
Rain". He’s been around long enough now that he can no longer be called an
up-and-comer but pianist Cyrus Chestnut has come, as his reading of "Swing
Low Swing Chariot" confirms.
Homeland may take liberties with the definition of jazz but it sure
beats those Jazz For a Rainy Day-like samplers. And it was done for
the right reasons.