It’s truly inspiring to see two jazz cats with resumes a few miles long join forces to create an eclectically expansive masterwork that neither could have imagined just a few years ago. Chicago pianist and percussionist Rob Ryndak composed “Gratitude,” the dreamy and soulful title track to his stylistically expansive and often exotically grooving dual album with saxophonist and reeds master Tom Lockwood, as a call to better appreciate life through all its joys and sorrows, ups and downs.
Yet even without those intended introspective contemplations, fans of inventive and adventurous, forward thinking jazz will feel thankful for the serendipity behind the way these two remarkable talents met – and how their initial hook led them to create a dynamic masterwork full of – for starters - breezy swing, cool smoky jazz, vibrant Latin tinged expressions and a buoyant, bouncy tribute to “Jackie McFunk” aka McLean.
Some of the Chicago and Michigan based supporting players on the album may be new on your radar, but they won’t be after you hear the way, for instance, Micah Rutschman (vibraphone), Sasha Brusin (guitars), take the arrangements to fresh, explosive heights. Ditto Grammy winning trumpeter Brian Lynch, whose solos and harmony lines with Lockwood form the emotional core of the collection. Speaking of cats, Ryndak and Lockwood crossed paths when Ryndak’s vet told him she sold her house to a musician (Lockwood).
Dutifully playing the welcoming neighbor, Ryndak went over and discovered a fellow instructor and kindred musical spirit. Theirs is a deeply complementary collaboration, with Ryndak’s spiritual minded compositions providing the perfect balance for the romantic pieces Lockwood wrote about his wife.