It’s an emerging and already dominant theme in contemporary jazz during the pandemic, and that’s using the latest technologies to connect and perform remotely with other musicians. This seems to be an unusually prolific time for musicians–just look at all the releases I’m getting from Japanese pianist Satoko Fujii over the last few months, and there are more from her in just the last few days. Keyboard player Steve Hunt has taken this concept to the next level on his new album, Connections.
“All instruments and vocals recorded by each musician in their home studio,” it declares in the liner notes. When Satoko Fujii does this kind of recording, it involves just one or two others partnering up on the internet, but Steve Hunt isn’t recording intimate duos or trios. This is big, dynamic fusion jazz, ripe with heavy rock beats, much in the vein of Hunt’s favorites such as Keith Jarrett, Joe Zawinul and Chick Corea.
While this isn’t exactly a big band orchestra–I’m sure that “virtual” recording is coming any day–there is a revolving door of special guests that provides Connections with a lush, complex and expansive feel. Each of these original compositions is composed, produced and mixed by Steve Hunt, and his wizardry at The Kitchen Recording Studio–along with Randy Roos’ mastering at Squam Sound–never sounds over-processed nor compressed. This sounds big budget and live (studio live, that is) all the way, which is a very encouraging tech victory.
While we’re still struggling to stay safe, it’s good to know that these resourceful musicians are still finding ways to get their musical ideas out into the world. Lone musicians have been doing this for decades, but the restraints have been lifted by fellow musicians such as Steve Hunt. These musicians are still hurting since they make their living through live performances, but we’ll get there soon. For now, we make connections.