Music, Pop Culture

“It’s Alive!” by Project Grand Slam  

Project Grand Slam has been steadily building up quite the reputation in the American jazz underground over the years, and if you give their latest LP It’s Alive! a listen over the spring season, I think you’re going to understand why. In thirteen of their best songs, PGS explores the depth of their artistry whilst staying away from the very notion of recycling elements of their past recordings for this new live piece. A love letter to the fusion community that’s been punctuated with enough of an alternative bend to qualify for some serious college radio play over the next few months, It’s Alive! is a treasure chest of tonality and textures the same that feels every bit the masterpiece we’ve come to expect from Mr. Robert Miller.

The sublime melodicism of “Aches and Pains,” “The Queen’s Carnival,” “Redemption Road,” and “No No No” is countered with a rich grittiness in “The One I’m Not Supposed to See,” “At Midnight,” and “Fire” that yields an even greater emotionality than words could have accounted for on their own. Though there are instances of conservatism on the part of our players here, most of the content in It’s Alive! aches with a free-spirited attitude that has been missing from the majority of new indie jazz records I’ve listened to lately. Project Grand Slam is cutting loose in this record, and yet they sound even more focused than one might anticipate they would.

I love the streamlined mixing technique that was employed for It’s Alive!, and while it’s a step away from what this act has done before, I don’t think it represents any sort of selling-out at all whatsoever.

There’s too much heart in the delivery of “I’m So Glad,” “Lament,” “I Can’t Explain,” and “The Queen’s Carnival” for anything else to be the case, and even if this is your first time listening to Project Grand Slam, I don’t think you’re going to have a hard time picking up on their authenticity. We’re listening to familial creativity in the most literal sense possible, and for my money, it’s producing what could be one of the best records of its kind to arrive this year.

Fans of Project Grand Slam both old and new alike are going to love this vulnerable look they’re displaying in It’s Alive!, but more pressingly, I think this thirteen-song set can serve listeners quite well in these trying times we’re living in today. There’s an underlying theme to this record, from the choice of the tracklist to the tone in which each of the songs is offered up to us, and in perspective, it’s lining up perfectly with what everyone has been going through in some capacity or another. Robert Miller’s Project Grand Slam isn’t asking a lot out of the audience in exchange for their most direct set of live performances to make it onto a full-length studio album so far, and if you haven’t already, I’d seriously recommend giving it a very close examination this April.

Cleopatra Patel

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