Monday, August 5, 2019

Project Grand Slam releases PGS7

Outfitted with beats that are as big and boisterous as they come, a string section burning hotter than the Chicago fire, lead vocals that could make even the hardest hearts of stone melt in an instant, sax vibrancy of the most divine quality, basslines that move mountains at the right volume and a percussive thrust guaranteed to get your speakers moving as much as your hips will, Project Grand Slam’s PGS7 is, simply put, a juggernaut of an album. 

 In the Robert Miller-founded jazz fusion project’s latest full-length release, we find an exotic rhythm in songs like “Funk Latino” and “No One’s Fool,” foreboding harmonies that tell us more about these musicians than words ever could in “Take Me” and “I Don’t Know Why,” as well as scathing lyrical commentary in “Get Out!” and the brutally honest “Tree of Life,” but despite the incredible diversity of its tracklist, PGS7 is unquestionably one of the most cohesive LPs to join the Project Grand Slam discography. Miller and his collaborators are more in tune with each other than ever before here, and it’s listeners who reap all the rewards of their studious labor in this unparalleled LP. There’s really no simple way to classify a lot of the music that we hear in this record, but not because of any compositional fragmentation – quite the opposite, actually. If anything, Project Grand Slam are amalgamating so many different styles, textures and tones in these tracks that they simply defy the very concept of genre altogether. There’s as much rock n’ roll in songs like “Get Out!” and the riff-centric “I Don’t Know Why” as there is R&B in “Redemption Road,” funk in “Python” and midcentury jazz in “The ‘In’ Crowd.”

 What holds everything together in this piece is Miller’s dexterous leadership of the group, which finds the perfect voice to convey its message in vocalist Ziarra Washington, a singer who has become one of my very favorites in recent years. Following the release of 2017’s The PGS Experience, it became next to impossible for critics to dismiss the credibility of this group, but in the wake of what they’ve cultivated in PGS7, I think that it would be appropriate to start referring to Project Grand Slam as a top tier indie unit, regardless of genre classification. 

I’ve been listening to Robert Miller’s work for a few years now, and this is undeniably one of the tightest records that he’s ever attached his name to. In terms of physicality, it goes unmatched among the output that we’ve heard from Project Grand Slam’s contemporaries both in and outside of the underground this summer, and while I’m fairly certain that this won’t be the last time that the band’s music makes its way into the headlines on the international level, something tells me that this is going to become one of their most beloved releases. PGS7 has the look and feel of an anthology album, and even though it comes in at a full-bodied fifty minutes in total running time, its tracklist is one that I’m sure most jazz and experimental rock fans will find to be listenable time and time again. 

Janelle Washburn 

The music of PROJECT GRAND SLAM has been heard all over the world due to the promotional services offered by Danie Cortese Entertainment & Publicity. Learn more here -

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