While John Jeffrey is best known as the metronomic drummer of Moon Duo, his solo debut Passage emerges as the work of a deft multi-instrumentalist.
During extended tour breaks in 2018 and 2019, Jeffrey found himself at home, on Vancouver Island, BC, after many years of travel. Immersed in the profound beauty, he was drawn to the idea of nature as an intelligent consciousness, an entity that communes and manifests, and this became the genesis of Passage.
Recorded in a series of sessions at The Hive, with engineer Colin Stewart, Jeffrey drew inspiration from the jazz principles of spontaneity, dynamism, and improvisation, the singular spirituality of Alice Coltrane and the mist-veiled landscapes of Canadian painter Takao Tanabe. He approached each session as an experiment in not only improvisation but also a kind of anti-composition in which he sought to remove ego from the creative process and to reimagine the self as a channel for natural processes, rendered through music. Playing to the rhythms of something unseen - a hidden partner that made itself known only in the moment of contact - Jeffrey sought to capture rather than design.
The four shimmering instrumentals that compromise the album are like a landscape unto themselves. At once grounding and expansive, molecular and infinite, they defy easy categorization. There are no linear surfaces, only elemental processes that curve and weave, disappear and reappear; a detailed interplay of atmospheric synths and meditative rhythm evokes the motion of water, the momentary ray of light through tall trees. Like a sonic rendering of one of Tanabe's distant shorelines, there is both beauty and mystery here - a quality just out of reach, that rewards close attention but does not pursue it.