Enormous melodies dressed as jazzy, unassumingly harsh daggers confront us with formidable strength in “Far Away.” An implied overdrive gets turned down while the tempo gets twisted in “Missing You.” Dan Engelhardt gets his funkier side on in “Db Samba” with just as much passion as he showcases in the progressive jazz work of art that is the stirring “My Mothers’ Death.”
“Spiritual Awakening” stalks its prey in the shadows only to pounce on us with even more of a violent push than that of “Minor Third Bird.” If “A Spirited Life” doesn’t envelop you in its ethereal classical theatrics no matter how outside of the box they happen to be, “Not Knowing” almost definitely will. This is Here at Last, the all-new album from the acclaimed jazz instrumentalist Dan Engelhardt, and it’s been winning the favor of critics throughout the underground well ahead of its debut release this October of 2022 – and not without good reason, I should point out. Here at Last is almost like a music lover’s dream incarnate, multifaceted with enormous harmonies and beats that could crater the ground beneath your stereo even at moderate volumes, and it’s an LP I would recommend to big jazz, eclectic, and even fusion fans as much as I would occasional classical connoisseurs.
As much as the piano parts tend to be the undisputable star of Here at Last, there are more than a couple of instances in which the grooves in the album outshine even the most exuberant of solos. Other than the title track, which plods along like a retro jazz march into the darkness of night, there isn’t a song here that doesn’t have a certain amount of swing to it (including the ballad-style “A Spirited Life”). Engelhardt proves he can sway like it’s 1987 in “Not Knowing,” get down and move with the best of them in “Db Samba” and slice up a modern sound like nobody’s business in “Spiritual Awakening,” all the while bringing unique swagger to every melody he stamps his name on. Here at Last doesn’t ask a whole lot out of its listeners in exchange for a treasure chest full of tonality, and if you’re expecting to hear the same kind of magic in a mainstream jazz effort this October, I wouldn’t hold my breath for too long.
Those who didn’t already hear the juggernaut that is Dan Engelhardt’s discography in the last few years need to make a point to do so this autumn season because the critical consensus is in – it’s one of the more well-rounded instrumental collections of its kind out everywhere independent music is sold and streamed at the moment. Engelhardt doesn’t try to be anything other than an easygoing jazz musician in this LP, and by sticking to a basic script, he cuts out all of the standardized nonsense that audiences often have to dig through in a lyricless outing like this one. Here at Last is a record that requires more than one listen to completely appreciate, but once it’s revealed its many colors to you, I think you’ll agree when I say it’s a more than worthwhile experience for any audiophile.