Producing A Thing Called Joe was an exercise in abandon for Flouzat. On the day before the recording, the drummer spent a leisurely afternoon picking tunes and comparing different versions, making a home cooked dinner and engaging in casual conversation with his bandmates. The next day Flouzat, pianist Sullivan Fortner and bassist Desmond White met at The Bunker Studios and took turns calling tunes from a list, making arrangement suggestions on the spur of the moment and rarely recording more than two takes. When the day was done, eighteen tunes were recorded. Then came the work of distilling the material and discovering the right sequence for listeners, so they could do what listeners used to do with old LPs: listen to them over and over again.
A budding songwriter, Flouzat has always drawn a lot of his inspiration from the wit and understated sophistication of composers and lyricists like Harold Arlen, Yip Harburg, Oscar Hammerstein and the Gershwin Brothers. His interest in the American Songbook led him to learn the lyrics of lesser known standards and to call them out at jam sessions, delving into their many interpretations and incorporating them into his drum routine.
Having been classmates at Manhattan School of Music, the three musicians often meet Uptown in New York City to play whatever Tin Pan Alley earworms that have attached themselves during the week and exchange listening recommendations. A native of New Orleans, Fortner is already considered one of the most important pianists of his generation, having received the American Jazz Pianists Association Award in 2015. Originally from Australia, White has become a fixture on the New York scene and a subtle composer. He was also featured on Flouzat’s Portraits, the song “Knight” being dedicated to him. White and Fortner’s backgrounds could not be more different, but they share the intensity, taste and no frills approach of old souls. Fortner has jazz history at the tips of his fingers and engraved in his soul and White has the relentless mind of a truly singular composer.
The album begins with Hal Hopper and Tom Adair’s ballad “There’s No You,” featuring scintillating arpeggios from Fortner which conjure an entire orchestra. Monk’s strange and obsessive “Oska T” is launched by Flouzat’s elegant groove and is sliced and looped into three minutes of perfection. Juan Tizol’s “Perdido” is a lesson in relaxed buildup with a nod to Sarah Vaughan’s classic take with the Count Basie Orchestra. The Young and Leigh classic “When I Fall In Love” becomes a hauntingly slow rumba on which Fortner and White make delicate statements, leaving the mystery intact.
The trio of Flouzat, Sullivan and White blissfully vamps out on the final tune as if it could go forever, thus creating a perfect conclusion to A Thing Called Joe, a joyful tribute to selfless interplay and heartfelt melodies.
1. There's No You 03:59
2. Oska T 03:08
3. Perdido 05:28
4. When I Fall In Love 07:19
5. Walking My Baby Back Home 04:43
6. Midnight Mood 07:18
7. Mrs. Parker of KC 03:50
8. Happiness Is A Thing Called Joe 04:04
Sullivan Fortner - piano
Desmond White - bass