It seems like only yesterday that The Chase Brothers – aka Matt Chase and Adam Chase – were putting together the band Jazz Is Phsh. Thoroughly inspired by the Jazz Is Dead concept of yore, The Chase Brothers recruited the best of the best for their all instrumental take on the beloved Vermont jam band, Phish. What debuted and cemented in the live setting now comes to us in album format, as the band has released their first LP: He Never Spoke A Word.
The album is named from a lyric in the song “Ghost,” which is exactly where this album gets started. The many instrumental tracks on the album offer an alternative to Phish’s music, familiar enough to be identifiable yet unique enough to stand out on their own. “Ghost” is a great example, providing a strong funky backbone for the band members to work upon. The band hints at the melody of the lyrics throughout, but they never really need to play it outright.
Phish’s music provides a rich tapestry for the Jazz Is Phsh ensemble to explore, and they do so with the help of full horn and percussion sections. The horns come out full blast on tracks like “Cars Trucks Buses,” “46 Days,” “Camel Walk” and more, but perhaps the best take on the album can be heard in “Foam.” The song is already exploratory in nature, rooted in jazz chord progressions and concepts, and Jazz Is Phsh uses that launching pad to dive deep into the jam.
Enough cannot be said about the great musicians who appear on this album. Organized by the Chase Brothers, He Never Spoke A Word includes Jeff Coffin (saxophone), Dennis Chambers (drums), Kofi Burbridge (keys/flute), Chris Bullock (saxophone), Grant Green Jr. (guitar), Michael Ray (trumpet), Holly Bowling (keys), Anthony Wellington (bass), Chris DeAngelis (bass), Scott Flynn (trombone), Lenny Pettinelli (keys), Derrick Johnson (trombone), and Josh Thomas (keys). Perhaps it’s only fitting that a band with a rotating cast of musicians would have such a diverse and talented list of contributors on their debut record.
All in all, Jazz Is Phsh has put together a thoughtful tribute in He Never Spoke A Word. It’s an eloquent album that is equally as comfortable in the background as it is up close; the instrumentals set a perfect mood, but they only benefit from a closer listen. These are serious musicians playing serious music, and they’ve nailed it. Well done, Jazz Is Phsh.
Listen to the full album below, streaming via Spotify.