Varied choices in instrumentation help Durand Jones and the Indications craft a new atmosphere in Private Space. The vibraphone makes a welcome appearance, especially at the hands of Joel Ross, a modern-day Milt Jackson who was jamming with Herbie Hancock as a high schooler and has already become a veteran jazz sideman at the ripe young age of 25. Strings are peppered throughout their second album, American Love Call, and an eight-piece string section gets plenty of air time throughout their third. The band members’ influences and interests are far-reaching. As a younger artist, Durand Jones envisioned carving out a career for himself in classical music. As of now, though, he’s destined to deliver feel-good jams reminiscent of Stevie Wonder, like the album’s opening track, “Love Will Work It Out”.
Front to back, the album keeps a healthy balance between inventing new sounds and sticking to the band’s strengths. Their lead vocalists are two of their strongest suits. Jones’ vocals lead the way through the sultry “More Than Ever”. Meanwhile, “Ride or Die” casts the spotlight squarely on drummer Aaron Frazer, who also happens to have one of Earth’s silkiest falsettos. On Durand Jones and the Indications’ self-titled debut album, “Is It Any Wonder?” gave us a sampling of what Frazer can do as a singer. On Private Space, the title track and “The Way That I Do” give his talents on the drums and the mic plenty of room to shine.
The political focus of earlier songs like “Make a Change” and “Morning in America” showed a similarity between the band’s philosophy and that of Nina Simone, who said, “an artist’s duty … is to reflect the times.” As the pandemic wears on, we’re in dire need of something to get us on our feet and shaking our hips, and fortunately for us, Durand and the crew are no strangers to the art of getting bodies moving.
Enter “Witchoo” as the perfect remedy. It’s a summer soul jam anchored by steady thumping bass, plus Jones and Frazer taking turns on vocals. It’s a banger that would feel equally at home in the club and your living room. “Reach Out” is nearly as delicious, boasting a 1980s dancefloor atmosphere built by a heavy dose of synthesizer and backup vocals from disco-innovating duo 79.5.
The closing track, “I Can See” is a delectable finale featuring the lush arrangements of strings and horns that characterized the Philadelphia soul sound of the late 1960s. It’s a subgenre that Fred Wesley––trombonist of Parliament-Funkadelic and the James Brown band––said was like putting the bowtie on funk. As a unit, the ten tracks on Private Space put funk in a kimono and send it out on the dancefloor with nothing to hide. Don’t delay: dial up the new one from the Indications, then get up and start moving with it.