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Tina Raymond — Divination
(Bandcamp Imani Records, 2023, CD / DL)

by Jon Davis, Published 2024-02-24

Divination Cover art

While we’re on the topic of female jazz drummers who are skilled composers (see Mareike Wiening’s Reveal), here we have Tina Raymond leading a trio on Divinations. With Andrew Renfroe on guitar and Karl McComas-Reichl on bass, this is very loosely structured music that really lets the players stretch their musical wings. Not that it’s completely improvised, but the charts have a lot of room for individual expression within their structures. As the primary melodic instrument, the guitar is of course foremost in the listener’s attention, and Renfroe handles it admirably. His playing is rooted in jazz tradition, and while he doesn’t shy away from effects, he doesn’t venture into heavily distorted tones. McComas-Reichl’s acoustic bass keeps things light, allowing Renfroe to venture well outside the confines of conventional tonality without rendering the music dissonant or harsh. And his solo spots on the bass are quite imaginative and enjoyable. But let’s get to Raymond’s drumming. When I listened to the album the very first time, my thought was, “With a more regimented drummer and an electric bass, this could be a hot fusion album.” Regimented is far from what Raymond is about. There are times when she’s so oblique with the timekeeping that I’m amazed the others don’t lose the pulse — it’s clear she’s found a couple of guys who really get her aesthetic, as well as having superb internal clocks. Her playing is propulsive without relying overmuch on repeated patterns, with polyrhythms and unexpected accents, sometimes coordinated with the melody, sometimes not. Listening to her work, I’m constantly a little off balance, not knowing what to expect, and I regard that as a very good thing. It’s the element of surprise, and it’s sadly lacking in too much music. I’ll just end by saying Divinations is one of my favorite jazz albums of 2023, and I recommend it highly.

Filed under: New releases, 2023 releases

Related artist(s): Tina Raymond

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