Jonny Tobin embodies jazztronica, not only in Vancouver or Canada but as one of its leading exponents around the world. Wandering is the keyboardist and producer's fifth album and his latest totally-solo project, available in full only on Bandcamp in advance of its Christmas Day release there.
An exclusive? Not really: Jonny has been dropping singles from the album since almost exactly a year ago. First was the lofi "Wonderment", then "Anibae" which grooves happily like his earliest work. "Emerald Evening" continues where his successful track "Lilacs and Lavender" left off, and last week "Layover" brought it back to swaggy funk bass and Dilla groove. All those tracks are available now.
Of the new tracks you'll hear upon release, "Afterdark" is the most striking, luxuriating in jazz fusion while the drums punch hard. Then there's "In Our Own World", bounced by the keyboard-bass and rhythmic shots to the heights of your favourite 2000s video game lobby soundtrack; "Infinite Oceans", which also grooves along like "Lilacs" (there's an acoustic piano warped into this one); and one that most resembles a number as it sounds at his live gigs, "Stellar".
Jonny has different personalities on each of the sounds that he deploys in his self-directed arrangements. Now that he's been at this for a while, he's kept his style highly consistent; only the greatest jazz-trained musicians I've heard in this city have honed their sound so deliberately and with this level of devotion. But you can hear what Jonny sounds like as a bass player, as a drummer or like a programmer of drums, and how he approaches soloing on different keys sounds as well – the kinds of movement that he uses, the way that he uses sequences of melody.
Those sequences aren't as exact now. Maybe on previous albums, you hear Jonny take a phrase and move that same phrase up and down, but now he's developing it that extra bit more. Wandering has a breezy runtime compared to his previous album Together, it goes by before you know it, and it's yet another happy joint that you can count on from Jonny Tobin.
Wandering: Anibae; Wonderment; Layover; Afterdark; In Our Own World; Infinite Oceans; Swimming; Emerald Evening; Stellar. (34:23)
Personnel: Jonny Tobin on keyboards and electronics.