ALBUM REVIEW: Ghost-Note Pump Conscious Funk on ‘Swagism’

The Snarky Puppy side project is a rewarding listen for jazz-heads and newbies alike.

Ghost-Note is the side project of drummer Robert “Sput” Searight and percussionist Nate Werth, best known as the thumping pulse of multiple Grammy-winning jazz collective Snarky Puppy. With heavy jazz and hip-hop beats, contagious funk grooves and lightning-fast, string-brass melodies Ghost-Note’s Swagism is a stylespanning journey, mainly rooted in jazz-funk fusion, which Werth and Searight call “conscious-funk.”

Over 94 vibe-soaked minutes, Swagism weaves its way through guitar and bass driven tunes like “Milkshake,” “Pace Maker” and “Smack ‘em,” synthy, string-heavy dance tunes like “Fragile,” and social justice anthems like “Lookin’ at the World,” “What’s Next?” and “No More Silence,” the last being a true album highlight featuring Kamasi Washington.

With a long list of collaborators that includes percussionist Weedie Braimah, tumpeter Philip Lassiter, keyboardist Nigel Hall and South Carolina vocalist Elise Testone, the record is unified by the powerful percussion of Werth and Searight. Other highlights include Prudence TheAuset Sneed reading J.M. Green’s poem “Some Silences are Heavy, Sagging Under the Weight of Words Left Unsaid,” the giddy laughter of prank phone calls between friends and 15 year-old guitar prodigy Brandon Niederauer.

Swagism is a great discovery for first time listeners and jazz newcomers, and a repeat-worthy spin for fans of Snarky Puppy and Ghost-Note’s past work.

Score: 👻👻👻👻/5