Jason Arkins, In Focus Review
by Icrom Bigrad
Jason Arkins is a contemporary jazz and fusion composer and saxophonist who is releasing his debut album, In Focus. Arkins’ music combines fusion and contemporary jazz with postproduction as a compositional technique. The ensemble instrumentation is Beau Cornelius on acoustic/electric pianos, Leo Folsom on synthesizers and organ, Mike Ramos on electric bass, and Jack Dratch on drums. The album premiers five Arkins compositions.
Beginning our journey is “Mister Behaving.” The opening synth sounds bring this album into a current soundscape. However, as the instrument parts layer in, the intricacies that make Arkins’ music unique unfolds. There are multiple feels, playing with time signatures and flowing harmonic progressions. Arkins’ solo slowly builds as the ensemble follows his lead, creating a story of sounds and interactions.
“Cut Scene” builds over a relaxed rhythmic pad by Dratch. The counterpoint between Arkins and Folsom is ear-catching and stimulating. The composition takes us through many metric modulations and harmonic twists. Arkins’ pieces are always full of surprises. Cornelius performs a beautiful solo that arches in activity. The groove is a funky fusion feel that is contemporary yet familiar. After an outstanding interlude, Arkins launches into an active solo trading with Cornelius. Both are in top form.
In Focus has a broad appeal in just five songs. Each selection has intentional appeal to the jazz listeners and beyond with its contemporary rhythms, but with the sophistication of fusion and the soloing of modern jazz. There is much to appreciate in Arkins’ music, the unique ensemble, the well-written compositions, and the fantastic performances. In Focus must be heard to be appreciated, a unique Nu-Jazz expression.