As daunting as it may seem to describe the multi-faceted career of Joshua Crumbly in one word, you couldn’t do any better than the one he’s chosen to title his debut album: Rise. Since making his professional debut at age 10 alongside his saxophonist father, the gifted bassist has continued on a remarkable trajectory. With the release of Rise, due out May 15 on Open Book Records, he takes the next bold leap, unveiling a stunning, uplifting vision that embraces the full spectrum of his musical experiences. Crumbly announced the album today with the first single “New Rock Thingy.”
After being mentored by such iconic bassists as Reggie Hamilton (Whitney Houston, Seal), Al McKibbon (Charlie Parker, Coleman Hawkins) and Victor Bailey (Weather Report), Crumbly went on to study at the prestigious Juilliard School. By the end of his freshman year he’d been recruited to join trumpet great Terence Blanchard’s band, recording Blanchard’s acclaimed album Magnetic. Since then he’s recorded and toured with a staggering list of genre-blurring artists including Kamasi Washington, Lizz Wright, Stefon Harris, Ravi Coltrane, Anthony Wilson and Leon Bridges.
The music on Rise manages to draw inspiration from all of those artists, melding into an uncategorizable but eminently inviting sound. “I want my music to reach as many people as possible,” Crumbly insists. “My goal is to write songs that can be performed at rock festivals or jazz clubs or concert halls. I come from a very diverse musical background and believe that this album has something for everyone.”
Unlike many debut recordings that strive to pack a lifetime’s worth of ideas into a handful of tunes, Rise is refreshingly open, allowing every member of the rotating cast of collaborators to add their own voice. At the same time it maintains a singular soundworld, evincing a vision confident and singular enough to leave room for spontaneous expression.
“There’s so much freedom for everyone to play things differently,” Crumbly says. “I’ll share with everyone what each song is about for me, but of course they can relate to it in their own way. Many of the songs are drawn from a specific experience that I’ve had, but I don’t wish to impose that interpretation on anyone else.” For inspiration, Crumbly looked inward, leading to a reflective and intimate-feeling album that bears the traces of lost loved ones, personal struggle, and elevating to a more hopeful place.
Rise is out May 15 via Open Book Records. Crumbly will play an album release show at Bluewhale in Los Angeles on June 6th.