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Demetrice Everett – Life

Aug. 18, 2017

In 2012, drummer Demetrice Everett released an EP featuring four tracks, as far as I can tell, entitled Demetrice “Meat” Everett. A single from the set, “Still Alive” was a precursor to the gems found on this new release entitled Life, one truly worth picking up.

Life actually counts as his debut full-length album, and it’s a good one. I love albums like this. Smorgasbords of sound.

This album opens in a gentle, unpressured way with a nice percussion, flute, and vocal ensemble piece, “Jungle,” that hints at what’s to come. However, it’s with “Dreaming of You” that one really begins to get a glimpse of the pleasures in store. Man, these cats swing time around like it’s a nothing but a weight on the end of a string. One moment, it’s swaying gently to and fro; the next, they have it at arms-length, spinning mad circles, twirling, laughing without dropping the melody. Then, just when you think the groove can’t improve, they just stop and drop some nasty guitar/synth combo break in your ears before they bring in the sweetness! I love music like this. It’s all over the place and beautifully put together.

Then, there’s the title track — hard and heavy as you like. A tune full on electric vamp that nods its head and claps its hands in Prince’s direction without seeming to be him. The cool irony of this tune is that the weight comes not from Everett’s drums, but from the guitar and bass that power this tune forward. Everett’s laid back there, dancing on his snare, toms and hi-hat, adding frills and trills.

This album hides moments of delicacy behind walls of towering electric guitars and synth- driven blocks of sonic rhythm, often propelled by Everett’s rumbling drums. On “Danger Funk,” there are moments when his timekeeping and drumming is not so much a beat as a pulse. It’s like the band is floating on thick clouds of thunder, the depth of his sound alone keeping them afloat.

Life is an album full of surprises. Take the snaggy, janky, latin-esque vibe of “Mr Percussion” for example. Its colour and textures are a kind of mad homage to the work of Shorter and Zawinul, but for never more than a bar or two before it’s distinctly Meat’s “dish.” There’s serious stuff going on, you see — guitar solos, Jaco-esque bass solos, wonky Cuban piano solos, fat, soft synth pads, and that crazy keyboard figure before flutes and guitars lead us to the dance floor, sort of.

Truly, Everett and the musicians accompanying him have to be up there as part of the new echelon of modern jazz musicians. Move over, Snarky Puppy, Kamasi Washington, and Robert Glasper, there’s a new guy at the table. I loved this album from start to finish. It’s got everything. Totally fresh. Gonna be hard to find a better album for 2017 for me. – Steve Giachardi