11 Songs, 52 Minutes

EDITORS’ NOTES

Veteran drummer Jeff Ballard, known for his work with Chick Corea, Brad Mehldau, and many others, follows up his 2014 trio debut, Time’s Tales, with something radically different: an unorthodox unit with Reid Anderson (of The Bad Plus) playing electronics rather than bass. Guitarist Lionel Loueke, decisively front and center on Time’s Tales, returns here in a role not quite as prominent yet just as tasty, his piquant electric lines and harmonies doing their part to shape the music. Kevin Hays and Pete Rende both appear on piano and keyboards, but one of the alluring things about Fairgrounds is that, across the board, it’s not necessarily always clear who is doing what. Though the tracks were culled from live recordings during Ballard's 2015 European tour, there’s no audience presence on the album—it’s just the band, intimate and in the zone. The process is free and exploratory: There are precomposed tunes in the book but also pieces that emerge collectively in the moment, full of unresolved ambiguity. Anderson’s electronics push the texture and rhythm into otherworldly zones, not least on his own “Miro,” revived from his 1999 release Abolish Bad Architecture and wholly reinvented. Guest spots from tenor saxophonists Chris Cheek and Mark Turner keep things fresh.

EDITORS’ NOTES

Veteran drummer Jeff Ballard, known for his work with Chick Corea, Brad Mehldau, and many others, follows up his 2014 trio debut, Time’s Tales, with something radically different: an unorthodox unit with Reid Anderson (of The Bad Plus) playing electronics rather than bass. Guitarist Lionel Loueke, decisively front and center on Time’s Tales, returns here in a role not quite as prominent yet just as tasty, his piquant electric lines and harmonies doing their part to shape the music. Kevin Hays and Pete Rende both appear on piano and keyboards, but one of the alluring things about Fairgrounds is that, across the board, it’s not necessarily always clear who is doing what. Though the tracks were culled from live recordings during Ballard's 2015 European tour, there’s no audience presence on the album—it’s just the band, intimate and in the zone. The process is free and exploratory: There are precomposed tunes in the book but also pieces that emerge collectively in the moment, full of unresolved ambiguity. Anderson’s electronics push the texture and rhythm into otherworldly zones, not least on his own “Miro,” revived from his 1999 release Abolish Bad Architecture and wholly reinvented. Guest spots from tenor saxophonists Chris Cheek and Mark Turner keep things fresh.

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