Zen Diagram 2020
Out from Kentucky, esteemed six-stringer returns with a soft thunder of strum and lace.
Here’s an album which arrived quite unexpectedly for both the audience and the artist. Not that Kingsley Durant has ever stopped performing – the Louisvillian’s fingers caressed his fretboard on a regular basis, often aided and abetted by jazz-rock elite – but the guitarist’s 2003 debut was a singular proposition for years, until the appearance of this platter. Produced, like its predecessor, by Kingsley’s brother Jon, yet – unlike “Away From The Water” – demonstrating totally instrumental palette, “Point Of Reference” may indeed live up to its title and show lesser purveyors of the Durants’ chosen genre a proper way to approach improvisatory chops without losing sight of arresting tune.
The key to it all can be found in “Plugged In” where highly charged hints of bossa nova emphasize the elegance of Kingsley’s electric touch – only dispensing notes rather sparingly, as though to let the listener admire each of them from different angles, Durant treats every lick of explosive and twangy, if delicate, opener “Slanky” like a precious gem and, thus, purifies fusion offered through his strings’ bounce off the smoldering Hammond and Fender Rhodes. However, while the seductive “Come Upstairs” is painting bedroom action not only by exposing exquisite interplay between the members of Kingsley’s quartet but also by capturing him switching from a slow burn to blistering flurries of sound, “Bay Of Funky” will allow groove become the king by permitting the great late Baron Browne’s bass and Steve Hunt’s ivories to bring boisterous dynamics to the fore. Such handling of various moods should outline the record’s theme, with “First To Go On” and “Ancestral Shadows” basking in piano-laden and sun-dappled, if magnificently uplifting, melancholy, and “Bloomfield” and “Tell Me Some Good News” enlivening blues shuffle via effervescent sustain and jovial, cosmic vibe.
And then there are warm and tightly woven, “Give Her My Regrets” that’s translucent yet unapologetically mischievous in its delivery, and the soul-searching but life-affirming epic “Never The ‘Twain” that exudes symphonic aura. Here’s a lot for music lovers and musicians to refer to – here’s a comeback to come back to time and again.