By Jeff Tamarkin
Jazz drummer Karl Latham is an inventive powerhouse whose influences are many but whose ideas are his own. On Resonance, his second album as a leader, Latham hooks up with guitarist John Hart, acoustic bassist Kermit Driscoll, and trumpeter Vinnie Cutro for a set of interpretations of rock, pop, and jazz classics from the likes of Jimi Hendrix, Stevie Wonder, Björk, and U2 that reinvent the source material while paying respects to it. Both Hendrix and Wonder turn up twice as composers, with the former’s “Manic Depression” serving as the album’s most far-reaching, avant exercise. Each of the bandmembers is a virtuoso, but it’s Hart who drives this particular jam, taking it to free-form places that Hendrix himself would no doubt have admired.
Wonder’s “Pastime Paradise” is a chill samba-esque reading that allows Latham an opportunity to make use of subtleties on his kit and his mates to swing softly. The Björk tune, “Pagan Poetry,” is handled with a light, moody touch that practically places the leader into the background and conveys the song’s atmospheres smartly, but U2’s “I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For,” while also a smooth acoustic ballad that amply displays the band’s chops, never quite delivers fully. Of the remainder of the tracks, Thelonious Monk’s “Bemsha Swing” is thrown into modern dance club territory with angular twists and a tight, ever-shifting rhythmic emphasis, and Hart’s original “Tadpole” is a bit of ’70s-era Miles Davis funk that pushes each player to the edge.