Way North is a cross-border mash-up of Canadian and American artists born out of the joy of playing together. Formed in Brooklyn in 2014 by three Canadians and a New Yorker, the band features saxophonist Petr Cancura (Down Home - JUNO nominee), trumpeter Rebecca Hennessy (2018 Toronto Emerging Jazz Artist/Women’s Blues Revue bandleader), bassist Michael Herring (Peripheral Vision - JUNO nominee) and American drummer Richie Barshay (Herbie Hancock/Chick Corea/ Esperanza Spalding).
Following up on their critically acclaimed first album Kings County, their new album Fearless and Kind finds the band serving up a similar roots stew, even more heavily weighted toward street-beats and dance rhythms. The front line's collective improvising and conversational rhythmic approach brings to mind both modern jazz and roots music, two styles that have more in common than one might think.
Recorded on the heels of a tour, the band's sound is clearly defined: the music feels comfortable and loose, its character distinctive and warm. That they love playing together is obvious, and this feeling is contagious, drawing listeners in close.
There is music from all four band members here, but it would be hard to tell, as the songs go seamlessly together. Cancura’s Mississippi-Beat “Boll Weevil” opens the album and announces the good times that are ahead. You can also hear his tender waltz “Ready or Not” and “The River’s Flow”. Hennessy’s “Lagoon” is next, and the rhythm section generates a lazy-cowboy lope which the horns ride on top of with the quirky harmonies. She also contributes the Ornette Coleman inspired calypso “Birds for Free” and the ballad “Inchworms”. Barshay’s “Airport to Knowhere” cooks with a Balkan-jazz groove, and he brought the Jelly Rolly Morton medley to the band, which fittingly connects the band’s modern sound with the early New Orleans roots of jazz. Herring’s title track “Fearless and Kind” is a bluesy waltz, and he also wrote the street-beat meets Jazz Messengers “You Know A Song”.
This is a community minded band, and they are looking to lift people up with this music: this is jazz you can dance to!
official website: http://waynorthband.com
Marty's review: This second release by Way North finds them in an upbeat and creative mood by sourcing music from several genres and creating and 11-track musical smörgåsbord that enlightens, excites and invigorates. Whatever form of music you may listen to, you will appreciate what is going on here with the way this collective have taken their talented musical leanings and formed a global soundscape of compositions that are surprising and at times unpredictable.