Hermon Mehari’s reverence for jazz tradition was evident during his performances while he was based in Kansas City. Even when he led tribute bands dedicated to reviving the rambunctious sounds of Miles Davis’ electric period, Mehari was resolutely dedicated to faithful recreations.
A Change For the Dreamlike, Mehari’s new 24-minute missive, shows the continued and entirely welcome expansion of his sonic palette during his ongoing residency in France. Each of the seven tracks showcases intriguing ideas and textures.
The elegiac meditation on the wistful melody of “Shenandoah” opening the EP is followed by a jolt of contemporary production accents on “Let’s Try This Again.” Mehari riffs over the spoken cadence of a family member on “Conversation With My Uncle,” a concept also effectively deployed by musicians including pianist Henrique Eisenmann. The tale of a dangerous transnational journey makes the experiment the recording’s most essential track.
“Eritrea” is an electro-acoustic groove in the vein of Lionel Louke while the chamber-jazz of “I Cry” evokes the innovations of Ambrose Akinmusire. “All Alone” and “Dreamscapes” are moody soundscapes not unlike the recent work of Kendrick Scott Oracle and Christian Scott aTunde Adjuah.
Mehari’s signature plaintive trumpet tone- a trait causing him to sound like Miles Davis’ sensitive great-grandson- provides a sense of continuity amid the disparate sounds of A Change For the Dreamlike. Mehari's insightful statement of purpose for the project is here.
(Original image of Mehari performing in 2011 by Plastic Sax.)