Jeff Coffin – Only The Horizon (ENG review)

Ear Up Records – Street Date, July 19th 2024
Jeff Coffin - Only Horizon

Here is an exciting project, as is always the case with Jeff Coffin, featuring his well-crafted jazz/funk, rock guitars, and some R&B tendencies, making this artist delightfully unclassifiable. Renowned saxophonist, composer, and educator Jeff Coffin (of the Dave Matthews Band) presents this highly anticipated collection of original compositions that highlight Coffin’s extraordinary vision and arranging talents, fusing traditional African rhythms with contemporary compositions.

“Only The Horizon” showcases Coffin on saxophones, clarinets, flutes, and other various instruments alongside the West African group Yeli Ensemble, and includes contributions from legendary musicians from Charleston, SC, who embrace the Gullah Geechee tradition. This confluence of tradition and innovation features over 40 iconic musicians, including Carter Beauford, Victor Wooten, Béla Fleck, MonoNeon, Bill Evans, Keb’ Mo’, Nir Felder, Nate Smith, Keith Carlock, Derico Watson, Tony Hall, Viktor Krauss, Stefan Lessard, Alana Rocklin, Jay White, Jon Cowherd, Leo Genovese, Buddy Strong, Emmanuel Echem, Rod McGaha, Rashawn Ross, Ray Mason, Cory Wong, Ezra Kessler, Rory ‘R.A.P.’ Ferreira, Roy ‘Futureman’ Wooten, and Ryoko Suzuki.

“In a conversation about art and music, someone said to me (Jeff): ‘There is only the horizon.’ I pondered what he meant for a long time and realized that it could refer to both the past and the future – which I tried to capture with this recording.” Coffin’s vision for “Only The Horizon” encompasses the rich traditions of West African music and rhythms, represented by the Yeli Ensemble, and contemporary original music performed by some of the world’s best artists.

The choice of artists on this album is particularly astute, all having a broad cultural reach beyond jazz. The joy of finding the excellent bassist Victor Wooten is like a cherry on top, even more delightful with artists like Keb’ Mo’ and Béla Fleck, making this album very compatible with Bayou Blue Radio. Working with the Yeli Ensemble and Gullah Geechee musicians added unique layers to the album. “Hearing the Yeli Ensemble bring their magic again and again, especially percussionist Ibro Dioubate, was a dream come true,” says Coffin. “Seeing what Matt White and Quentin Baxter brought from the Gullah Geechee culture to Charleston, SC, was incredible on all levels – there is deep love, immense gratitude, and old and new friendships in these recordings,” Coffin expresses.

Add to this a very high-quality production, arrangements that match the empirical nature of the project, and the result is stunning. Beyond its danceable aspect, listening to the solos of each artist is a moment of pure bliss. The album concludes with a beautiful composition titled “Yeli Geechee,” a soulful track with remarkable interactions between Coffin and iconic guitarist Keb’ Mo’, legendary Nashville bassist Viktor Krauss, and drummer Nate Smith. This piece also features Ibrahima Dioubate on percussion and musicians from the Gullah Geechee community, including members of the multi-award-winning group Ranky Tanky, as well as Jeff’s wife, Ryoko, on harmonium!

Jeff is also a Yamaha artist and clinician, a Boston Sax Shop ambassador, and a JodyJazz artist. He teaches improvisation and directs the main combo at the prestigious Vanderbilt University, has written over 10 music books, a children’s book, produces, directs, mixes, draws, and continues to be recognized for his musical passion, deep commitment to music education, and tireless dedication to improvised music. So, here is another beautiful album that we are proud to include in our “Essentials” collection, and it might just keep you dancing all night this summer.

Thierry De Clemensat
USA correspondent – Paris-Move and ABS magazine
Editor in chief Bayou Blue Radio, Bayou Blue News

PARIS-MOVE, July 1st 2024

Follow PARIS-MOVE on X


To buy this album