Mark Isham - trumpet and electronics; Doug Lunn - acoustic and electric basses; Peter Maunu - guitar; Michael Barsimanto - drums
In late 1997 and early 1998, film composer, trumpeter, synthesist, and sessionman Mark Isham hunkered down for some woodshedding at one of LA's premiere, discreet jazzspots with his combo the Jericho Project. Known primarily for his work scoring films—like Crash and A River Runs Through It, among many others—Isham fuses his cinematic sensibilities to his jazz chops and his strong desire to experiment with emerging forms, whether new age, electronic, or hip hop. The result is a giant rainbow of sound and vision—an aural equivalent to Cinemascope and Technicolor.
Assembling the same core of musicians with whom he collaborated on his tribute to Miles Davis, Miles Remembered: The Silent Way Project, Isham and Co. lay down some stellar, as well as some interstellar, jams. And though the Baked Potato in Studio City, California may not seem the likeliest of jazz hotspots, it is indeed where the serious gather to listen, as well as to work out new sounds.
Isham brings his ear for cinema to his own compositions. In this performance from November of 1997, "UFO" conjures intergalactic travel and alien objects while it gets its outtaspace groove on; the jam builds to an arching crescendo before its mellow landing. "In The Time" riffs on the rhythm of the rain, joined to a percussive mood. Isham adds horn and recreates the sound of scratching, while poetics and melody merge in a perfect storm of texture. Bassist Doug Lunn and guitarist Peter Maunu spike the action with thunder cracks and snaps, till ultimately the clouds part. "In the Time" is a truly mystic journey that affords Isham some room to play his horn.
With echoes of jazz auteur Miles in the mix, thanks to Isham's evocative trumpet stabs and gorgeous melodies laid over the sculpted soundscapes (a la In a Silent Way), he pays homage to inspirers Davis and composer Joe Zawinul, the admitted masters of the jazz fusion form. But as he strives to reach new heights, Isham also carves out new spatial territory—"exploring strange, new worlds, seeking out new life" and boldly going where few jazzmen have gone before. It's jazz at heart, but more like "Jazz: The Next Generation."