Everything about Geoff Vidal is rich, and everything that emits from his horn is juicy. From thickly emoted accompaniment to solos that are luxuriant and flavorful, Vidal’s lion-hearted creativity is reflected not only in his own charts and performance, but the quality with which he executes life itself.
Since first arriving on the New York scene as a New Orleans transplant in 2006, his irresistibly fraternal demeanor and musical boisterousness have always been refreshingly conspicuous. Contrasting the tightly-polished conservatorialism that dominates the New York scene—a culture that makes it easy to forget the adventurousness that gave rise to this art form—unbridled adventure was clearly something Geoff has been bountifully endowed with.
That’s not to say that he wants for high-caliber chops. Far from a tenderfoot, Geoff’s professional career took flight at age fifteen with his recruitment into the Stage Door Canteen, a noted Cape Cod big band, and later the prestigious sax studio of Lynn Klock at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. Geoff’s continued UMASS honors included early induction into Grammy winner Jeff Holmes’ UMASS Jazz Ensemble and multiple mentions in the Down Beat Student Music Awards, including Best Collegiate Soloist.
In New York Geoff’s career has been no less auspicious. After several years touring and performing out of New Orleans, he arrived in NYC to quickly become a tenor-of-choice for a host of notable bandleaders and appear in some of the city’s most prominent clubs.
As both a sideman and a leader, the years leading up to this release have seen the total ripening of Geoff’s musical character. At once insatiably unique and deliciously accessible, his unharnessed energy has effloresced into a performance both playful and deliberate, liberated yet totally in control. The exuberant first cry of a signal player on the jazz field, this evocative and inspired record (buttressed by a fine group of sidemen, each with their own claim to lasting significance) is the necessary evolution of small-ensemble jazz, the answer to the genre’s current adversity to change.
While Vidal’s sound is easily comparable to the breathy warmth of Coleman Hawkins or Sonny Rollins’s colossal purr, it better serves both the artist and the craft to examine his contribution to the jazz-scape on the terms he himself has delivered, which are those of a vigorously original artist with a lovingly time-honored tone. For specifics, please refer to the music.