Stuart Mack – Vibrations (ENG review)

Street date May 17th 2024
Stuart Mack – Vibrations

The first thing one notices about this album is its introduction, “Vibrations Intro,” which sets up like a curtain rising in a theater. Quickly, we dive into the heart of the matter: trumpeter and composer Stuart Mack, lively and delicate in his trumpet playing, takes us on a journey through a form of complex jazz. There’s substance here, perfectly arranged to leave ample space for the musical poetry of this artist who has worked with jazz groups and legends such as David Liebman, the Vanguard Jazz Orchestra, Romero Lubambo, the Jihye Lee Orchestra, and the Mike Holober Group, among others. Mack’s skills and prowess have earned him well-deserved recognition in the international jazz world. Now, after years of refining his presence and identity as a musician, Mack presents “Vibrations,” a debut album woven with artistic thread that showcases above all the deep desire for beauty that music can satisfy in the human soul.

What particularly marks Stuart Mack’s work are his compositions. They may seem simple to listen to, but they are cunningly crafted, akin to a sculptor who, piece by piece, carves away from the mass to arrive at a smooth and satisfying surface. Everything seems carefully thought out, weighed, and architectured with talent! “Vibrations” was by no means an overnight job. Mack, being a musician of the up-and-coming generation, spent the last decade shaping his musical persona, navigating through different situations where he took note of the genius he admired and integrated it into his style. Notably, from his collegiate experiences in the early 2010s with the Grammy-nominated One O’Clock Lab Band at the prestigious University of North Texas and the Disneyland All-American College Band, Mack had a rapid sampling of jazz across the country.

I do have a fascination for composers who work in this way, who know perfectly how to blur the lines. Here, for example, on the surface, you hear a relatively classic form of jazz, yet the arrangements are entirely contemporary. I don’t think with this debut album it’s possible to pigeonhole this musician, who I believe has some beautiful surprises in store for us in the future. For Mack, the unique presence and personality of each musician on the album were crucial in bringing the music to life. This is particularly evident in the liveliness and unity that the ensemble brings to each piece. “Almost everything you hear on the album is each musician’s personal interpretation of my music,” says Mack. “I intentionally kept my scores basic and the way I described my pieces – it left a lot of room for interpretation.” Mack’s prioritization of each musician’s individuality pays off and speaks both to his confident leadership vision and the group’s talent. In addition to Mack on trumpet and flugelhorn, the ensemble features Alejandro Aviles (saxophones, flute), Manuel Valera (piano), Adi Meyerson (bass), and Grammy Award winner Dan Pugach (drums).

There’s a Chet Baker-like DNA in the way Mack sends out the notes and lets them float in the air, catching them with another. Because Stuart’s philosophical approach to time seems to want to break everything down, fascinating, moving, an album that inevitably becomes an “essential for anyone who loves the beauty of art.” From brilliance springs brilliance, so it’s not surprising that a musician so lauded creates such a powerful presentation of sound and soul. With “Vibrations,” Mack boldly and colorfully asserts that music and beauty are virtues deeply rooted in the human heart. By encapsulating them with such power, he speaks the language of humanity with such clarity that it can only resonate and reverberate to the core of every listener. How can one not respect an artist with such intellectual development?

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

PARIS-MOVE, May 6th 2024

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