I put "Blue Collar" into my CD player and was more than pleasantly surprised. I spent much of the first listen following along with the catchy bass and piano parts, or seduced by the drum solos, but my true appreciation for the album came on subsequent plays. With "Blue Collar" on repeat, I went about my day of writing, washing dishes and generally doing work around the house. With LeCompte on in the background, though, I found I had an unusually cheerful kick in my step. Almost everything I did was to the beat of LeCompte's drumming. I cooked, cleaned and organized laundry in rhythm with the smooth stylings of the music.
The album boasts callbacks to Duke Ellington's style of swing and even John Coltrane's more upbeat works, but what I love about "Blue Collar" is that technical knowledge of musicology and jazz history are not necessary to enjoy the music. LeCompte doesn't bog down the album with overextended solos — each track is about the length of those found on any other album — and the lack of vocals makes it easier to appreciate the instruments.
With only a bass, piano and set of drums featured, the album is sparse. This helps the listener follow along on the musical journey. It was always easy to tell what I should be focusing on. Each instrument tended to take center stage at its own specific time, providing a sense of rhythmic balance to the album. "Blue Collar" isn't a piano album, or bass album, or a drums album, but a solid collaboration between the members of LeCompte's trio.
It's a treat. His original tunes, like "Takin' the 88" and the title track, "Blue Collar," are terrific in their own right, but even more impressive are the covers, such hits as "Soul Sister" and "Alfie," which LeCompte manages to make sound new again. I recommend putting it on as you go about your day. I bet you won't go two tracks before noticing the increased rhythm in your daily routine.
Brian McGackin is an alumnus of USC's graduate creative writing program, where he focused on poetry and literary critical analysis.
Who: Burbank drummer Jack LeCompte and his jazz trio
What: New CD "Blue Collar"
Where: Available for purchase online at cdbaby.com
Cost: $12.97 for the CD or $9.99 for an MP3 version