Karl Latham Group
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Karl Latham Group

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The best kept secret in music


"Jazz drummer Karl Latham is an inventive powerhouse"

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.

- AllMusic.Com


Sparta-based drummer and arranger Karl Latham and company offer a far-from-everyday approach to contemporary modern jazz. The drummer, guitarist John Hart (armed with his share of sound-shifting pedals), acoustic bassist Kermit Driscoll, and West Milford trumpeter Vinnie Cutro deliver works that range in sound from 1980s Miles Davis to Jimi Hendrix in a jazz vein to free-leaning pieces a la late-day John Coltrane (except played on trumpet). Latham is a live-wire trapsman: he’s pretty much got something stimulating going 24/7 – and his colleagues likewise.

Stevie Wonder’s “Higher Ground” both keeps a close bond with the song’s original feel, and expands upon it, with fat-toned Cutro both sweet-noted and angular, and Hart hitting crying notes, chunky chords, and more. Hendrix’s “Manic Depression” starts as a free romp with Cutro and Latham dashing around, Hart adding Jimi-like clusters. Then there’s the familiar Hendrix theme from emotive Hart, with Cutro adding modernist asides, then more open-minding playing. At first, “Spanish Castle Magic” sounds more like its original version, then it works into a percolating one-chord vamp where all hands basically cut loose. The tenderness of Bjork’s “Pagan Poetry” adds a balance to the energy of so much else here.
Zan Stewart

- Star Ledger


Recasting rock standards, whether from the “classic era” or stemming
from the minds of modern-day conceptualists from the likes
of Bjork or Radiohead, has become a more frequent occurrence. Though
the transformation of popular music to a Jazz setting is hardly a new
concept, mixed results abound, from great (Dave Douglas, Jason Moran) to the disappointing (Herbie Hancock’s New Standard, Phil Woods doing Stevie Wonder, or Joshua Redman’s take on Eric Clapton, to cite but a few). Drummer Karl Latham throws his hat into the ring on Resonance,
recasting many familiar melodies from the likes of Jimi Hendrix, Stevie
Wonder, U2, and Bjork, mixed with group originals. Latham’s versatile,
yet pliable style mates well with his bandmates, guitarist John Hart, bassist Kermit Driscoll, and trumpeter Vinnie Cutro, with Hart and Cutro taking the majority of the solo space.

As for the Rock covers, Stevie Wonder’s pen opens and closes the session,
with the buoyant “Higher Ground” presenting the lively aims of
the participants, while “Pastime Paradise” with its Latin funk, ends the session on a joyous route (that almost makes one forget Coolio’s destruction). Hendrix also gets top billing here, allowing Hart to really show off what an incredibly talented (yet underappreciated) player that he is.
“Manic Depression” bears little resemblance to the original framework, with the melody buried within the tension-filled, yet floating dance. “Spanish Castle Magic” has Hart’s overdriven axe sounding nasty, yet the
group clearly enjoys the fun while he soars, with Latham also stretching out tastefully. As for U2, “I Still Haven’t Found” is cast as an acoustic ballad, with Hart shimmering, Cutro’s sweet muted trumpet, Driscoll’s woodsy, heartfelt pizzicato solo and Latham’s rolling cymbal work giving
the piece its heart. A frequent source of inspiration for many a Jazz group these days, Bjork’s gorgeous “Pagan Poetry” enjoys the group’s dynamic control, with its subtle colors, Cutro’s handling of the fragile, forlorn theme and its episodic swells. A winner, for sure.

As for the group’s own compositions, they funk out on Hart’s “Tadpole,” and Driscoll’s “Hekete” is a tricky waltz with the group in conversationalist mode. Oh, and lest one forget the quartet tosses in a jocular, uptempo read of “Bemsha Swing” in an almost Rock-like mode that is high octane, but always in the groove. A zesty outing from this quartet with impressive versions of the familiar, as well as several group works.
Jay Collins - oct - nov - dec 2007 | cadence |

"Karl Latham "Resonance""

Karl Latham is well known for his interest in and talent for many styles of music. In Resonance, many of these styles are represented through a rearrangement of tunes from well known rock artists. This leads to unusual and thought provoking results. For example, U2’s, “I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For” is used almost as a ballad to shift the mood and provide a smooth transition into the more challenging Hendrix piece that follows, Spanish Castle Music. This arrangement is also unique while still being recognizable. Hendrix’s work comes across intact with a strong back beat providing a foundation for some excellent trumpet work by Cutro.
Other pieces such as Bjork’s “Pagan Poetry,” defy categorization and can only be enjoyed for what they are, in this case, another beautiful trumpet / guitar ballad. Finally, Resonance’s last two tracks are Monk’s “Bemsha Swing” and Wonder’s “Pastime Paradise.” “Bemsha Swing” is a wonderfully twisted arrangement with Hendrix-like guitar solos and “Pastime Paradise” becomes a pleasant Latin samba swing. It’s as if Latham has created a sampler album of his styles.
Resonance must be given some listening time to be appreciated. It’s complex and varied interpretations force the listener to think about each piece as an individual artistic expression rather than a cohesive album and if you are looking for a new sonic landscape in your jazz world, Resonance, will not disappoint.
By Paul Sakion - JazzImprov NY Magazine Review

"KOOP CD Reviews"

New Jersey-based drummer Karl Latham is noted for his versatility—able to excel at a variety of styles including jazz, rock, funk, and Latin. On his second release as a leader, he emphasizes the jazz and rock aspects of his repertoire. With guitarist John Hart, bassist Kermit Driscoll, and trumpeter Vinnie Cutro, he tackles a pair of Jimi Hendrix covers (#2, 5-6), two from Stevie Wonder (#1, 10), and one each by U2 (#4), Björk (#7), and Thelonius Monk (#9). The results are mixed—the U2 and Björk covers are mild affairs that border on easy listening. “Higher Ground” (#1) starts out as a pretty standard reading of the melody, but things start to get interesting around the 3:00-minute mark as the group abandons the loping melodic riff for more adventurous territory. On the positive side of the ledger, “Manic Depression” (#2) reads like classic Miles fusion, with Cutro and Hart trading exploratory solos like Miles & McLaughlin from the Jack Johnson sessions. “Bemsha Swing” (#9) gives Monk the funk as Latham starts out of the gate with a breakbeat rhythm, followed by Driscoll, and finally Cutro on melody. From there, the group gives the standard a good fusion workout. Hart’s original “Tadpole” (#3) has a funky, creeping rhythm and an inventive melody that invites improvisation. And Latham gives Wonder’s “Past Time Paradise” (#10) a samba arrangement, the nicest of the slower tracks on the disc. And that’s yet another of Latham’s skills—helping us hear familiar melodies in new settings.
Paul Borelli 10/7/07

"No safe "smooth" jazz here!!"

It was a great joy listening to the Karl Latham Quartet play a set of original and deconstructed cover instrumentals that completely rocked out. The group was, without a doubt, the highlight of the Home Grown Radio NJ Festival that took place on Saturday, September 15th.
No safe "smooth" jazz here!!
Peter Biedermann - HomegrownRadioNJ

"Karl Latham "Dancing Spirits""

“Karl Latham leads the band through all kinds of musical terrain with a playful, musical touch, from the elaborate shading to the sparse, funky backbeats. Latham likes playing inside and out, and his band follows suit nicely.”
Robin Tolleson, Modern Drummer - Modern Drummer Magazine

"Beat Goes On"

“A drummer with zest and explosiveness who can also keep solid, steady time, Karl Latham of Sparta makes music move. A fine example is his just-out "Resonance" DropzoneJazz CD, which sports bust- out versions of Hendrix's "Spanish Castle Magic" and Monk's "Bemsha Swing." The fellows on the recording -- Latham, West Milford trumpet dynamo Vinnie Cutro, guitarist John Hart, and bassist Kermit Driscoll" - Star Ledger


Still working on that hot first release.



Currently at a loss for words...