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John Dillard – Let’s Ride

August 24, 2015

Bassist John Dillard, who’s worked with the likes of Mavis Staples, Heather Headley, and Queen Latifah, demonstrates here on his solid John Dillarddebut release Let’s Ride (so apropos for this site, don’tcha think?) why he should have been on the scene as a solo artist long before now. Perhaps it’s simply because he wasn’t supposed to “happen” until now, but he immediately illustrates major talent, an obvious deep affinity for the low register power of the bass, and a soul so filled with what makes a real bassist a real bassist.

The new album is pretty eclectic, starting off with a spoken word intro set out in a hip hop climate while backed with Dillard’s mighty bass competence. He follows that with the hefty mid-tempo funk of the title track, reminiscent of one Marcus Miller — a powerhouse with whom you just may be familiar — and the sax work of another bright light in c-jazz, Marcus Anderson.

After taking you further into the funky bliss of his style with “Gotta Make This Right” featuring Art Sherrod Jr. and his slick sax work and “Cruise Control” (again featuring Anderson on sax), Dillard dials back the tempo and offers a pair of mellow, classy tracks – “26 East” and “I Need You,” displaying some handsome lead work.

There’s a ton of appeal in this well-produced album. At a time when many c-jazzers are bemoaning the “same ol, same ol” sound that is unfortunately becoming more and more prevalent, Dillard offers a breath of fresh air sure to contribute to the life of the genre.

Obviously taking his time and allowing his creative juices to simmer just long enough before releasing this project, Dillard has afforded himself the best opportunity to join the heavyweights who strive tirelessly to take this genre to even higher ground. Wonderful debut. – Ronald Jackson