Jonathan Barber and Vision Ahead To Release Fourth Album, In Motion, on August 2, 2024
LISTEN TO THE FIRST SINGLE, “IN MOTION”, HERE

“His method of shaping up the music with fragmented beats, responsive polyrhythms and a surgical precision behind the kit places him solidly in the ranks of other creative under-40 drummers on the scene today.” – Bill Milkowski, DownBeat Magazine

Drummer-composer Jonathan Barber announces the release of In Motion, his fourth studio album with his long-standing group Vision Ahead, out August 2, 2024. Instilled with a sense of maturity and rooted in deeply personal expression, In Motion emerges as an authentic musical portrait of the Hartford-born artist illustrated by eight richly-composed original compositions and a pair of reprises. Intended as a cohesive, full body of work, In Motion is Jonathan Barber’s most astute statement yet, and a testament to the staying power of Vision Ahead as an ensemble.

The title, In Motion, is a nod to the act of “doing”, and is thought of as a motivational mantra for the drummer-composer. It’s an accurate reflection of Barber’s ever-evolving artistry and meteoric career: since 2018, Barber and Vision Ahead have consistently released impactful and acclaimed projects, each further solidifying the group’s standing as one of the premier ensembles of this generation. Anchored by Barber (who was selected as the #1 Up and Coming Drummer by Modern Drummer Magazine in 2018), Vision Ahead features first-call guitarist Andrew Renfroe, artful pianist Taber Gable, respected bassist Matt Dwonszyk and exploratory tenor saxophonist Matt Knoegel. “Barber’s Concept with “Vision Ahead” is shapely and sure, fortified with youthful energy, yet tempered by mature skills. His compositions are solid, his performance grounded, full of dance feel, and one with a future,” described jazz journalist Ken Micallef in DownBeat Magazine. The sound of Vision Ahead is decidedly now

“I am loving the artist that I’m becoming. I’ve accepted all my experiences as stepping stones, allowing myself to stand tall and speak on what is in my heart,” reflects Barber, who composed the eight songs, and two reprises that make up In Motion. 

The album opener “Radar” immediately orients the listener, marked by Barber’s powerful intro as he decorates drum fills between the melody. As the song takes off, Renfroe and Gable set the tone with a melodic motif while Barber and Dwonszyk lay down a heavy groove. The melody, which rolls like a snowball down a hill, builds momentum in anticipation for the syncopated call and response that follows. Saxophonist Knoegel takes the first solo, and then they’re off. This track features shining solos by Knoegel and Gable, and ends with a sparkling feature for Barber.

The title track, “In Motion” is the heart of the record, and what Barber refers to as the sonic theme. “When I was composing this song, I wrote three melodies over the chords and thought

to myself which melody shall I use? Then I realized, all three work with each other and each melody becomes a section where the soloist can improvise,” he says. “In Motion” has a lot of undercurrent feels courtesy Barber and Dwonszyk, and is meant to evoke a collective conversation within the band. “There’s moments where it gives the imagination of an alley-oop pass versus a forward lateral pass,” notes Barber. “There’s a lot of emotion, listening and risk that’s required in playing this song.” Inspired by the recording session, Barber left the studio that day and knew he had found his album title. 

“When Love Calls” is a lyrical ballad that truly showcases Barber’s adept skills as a composer. A spotlight for sole soloist Andrew Renfroe, this soulful treat is supported by Gable’s lush chords, Dwonszyk’s strong bass notes and Barber’s crisp groove. One of Barber’s personal favorites, this song is reprised later. 

Other highlights include “The City That Sits On A Hill”, featuring a singable, airy melody, performed with care and finesse, and “Liberty”, which feels like an instrumental chant. On this track, Barber’s rhythmic layers shine as he plays a combination of ride cymbal and snare bass drum groove over a tribal low-tom pattern sprinkled with a delayed audio effect. The album closes with the powerful “Help Us All Rise”. “It’s rare for me to take a traditional drum solo. With this band I think as a composer first and most of the time I’ll think of my involvement as a drummer last. But in this case with Help Us All Rise, I thought of myself first,” the drummer states. This album closer presents an imaginative ending to the musical story. With a low drone entering the song, Gable delivers hymn-like chords, giving the notion that something theatrical is about to happen. Barber enters with textures on the cymbals and sparse movement on the snare and toms before the melody arrives with Knoegel, Renfroe and Dwonszyk playing in no particular time signature but certainly to a pulse. 

In Motion is not just an album; it’s a testament to Jonathan Barber’s artistry and vision. With its rich compositions, virtuosic performances, and innovative arrangements, the album is sure to captivate listeners and solidify Barber’s reputation as one of jazz’s most exciting talents. 

 

Tracklisting: 

  1. Radar 5:05
  2. Giving 2:13
  3. In Motion 4:59
  4. When Love Calls 4:27
  5. Liberty 4:43
  6. The City That Sits On A Hill 5:29
  7. When Love Calls (Reprise) 2:40
  8. Can’t Call It 3:10
  9. Liberty (Reprise) 0:46
  10. Help Us All Rise 3:25

 

Release Shows:

August 1st – The Drake (Amherst, MA)
August 2nd – Arch Street Tavern (Hartford, CT)
August 5th – Smalls Jazz Club (New York, NY) 

Release Shows in August:

August 1 – The Drake (Amherst, CT)
August 2 – Arch Street Tavern (Hartford, CT)
August 5 – Smalls Jazz Club (New York, NY) 

October Tour:

October 3 – Live At Lucille’s (Knoxville, TN)
October 4 – Rudy’s Jazz Club (Nashville, TN)
October 5 – Piedmont Jazz Alliance (Winston-Salem, NC)
October 6 – Missy Lane’s Assembly Room (Durham, NC)
October 10 – South Street Jazz (Peekskill, NY)
October 21 – Smalls Jazz Club (NewYork, NY)

November Dates:

November 9 – The Side Door (Old Lyme, CT)

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