New Dreams from Coates, Haslip and Kalaf | The Vinyl Anachronist

new dreams from haslip coates kalaf

I’ve been jamming on reviews ever since I returned from Denmark, and I’ve noticed that I keep mentioning New Dreams, from Barry Coates, Jimmy Haslip and Jerry Kalaf over and over. It took a few weeks to realize how much I dig this album–for quite a while I was merely responding to the superb sonics, especially that crazy-real ride cymbal from Kalaf’s kit, but I wasn’t quite sure why.

New Dreams sounds very unique for what is essentially a jazz trio, one led by a guitarist/keyboardist Coates. On casual listening, I sensed a vacuum in the sound, as if something vital was missing, a brash and unifying force in the middle. I’d sit and listen to this intriguing music, the way it sticks to the fundamentals of each instrument in a deep trance-like state, and then shifts and reveals the wide openness of it all. It’s big and sprawling, not a common descriptor for a trio. This is a spacious landscape, marked by silences, but the little details are endlessly rewarding. You just have to sit still to find the center.

From a reviewing standpoint, New Dreams has been an effective tool. The highs–Kalaf’s shimmering cymbals as well as the most delicate and swift snare drum action I’ve noticed in a while–are so well-balanced against the lows–Haslip’s grand intonations on bass that this album sounds like a feast of dynamics and frequency response. Then Coates comes in with his synthesizers and guitars and he does the most amazing thing–he provides the atmosphere. He’s not wedged between his rhythm section or pushing them to the rear of the stage. He’s embracing them, bringing them closer.

If this review seems focused on the ethereal, that’s because New Dreams is relaxing and it might lull you into an unexpected nap. It is hypnotic, but it’s also crystal-clear in its approach thanks to the understated yet memorable contributions by the trio. Listen to it, then listen again. When you wake up, try once more. New Dreams gets into your head, but you won’t mind a bit.