Sam Wilkes, "Sivaya" (Leaving)
Los Angeles bassist Sam Wilkes is becoming one of the freshest musicians in this decade's jazz renaissance. His 2018 debut album, WILKES, revealed an artist able to tap into the highest reaches of spiritualized expression. Last year he performed many of that record's songs live at the Highland Park Ebell Club, which he filled with Astroturf to flatten the big room's acoustics. You can hear the results on Live on the Green (out November 8); its eight tracks are a balm for the soul, with Wilkes getting beneficent support from alto saxophonist Sam Gendel, drummer Tamir Barzilay, electric guitarists Adam Ratner and Brian Green, and Jacob Mann on Roland Juno 106 and Korg Kronos.
Live on the Green includes a cover of "Sivaya" by the illustrious Alice Coltrane, so of course I have to spotlight it. (Earlier this year on Slog I wrote about Sunwatchers covering Coltrane's "Ptah the El Daoud." I will never pass up a chance to celebrate Ms. Coltrane's essential music.) Released on 1977's Transcendence, "Sivaya" represents an early example of Alice's embracing of Vedic, chant-heavy composition. Wilkes dispenses with the original's handclaps and vocals and emphasizes its serenely beautiful melody and breezy tempo. This version efficiently sweeps away the world's chaos, for at least the five minutes of its run time. That it brings more attention to Alice Coltrane is a rich bonus to this blissful blessing of a performance.