It isn’t very often that new genres present themselves and if they do they normally don’t stand up to too much scrutiny, usually being akin to genre-spliced musical Frankenstein’s Monster, a revolutionary idea on paper but with an end result which is far from palatable. Caterpillar Chronicles, however, is anything but such a clumsy hybrid but is instead a slick blend of cutting edge hip-hop, timeless classical lines, sophisticated jazz vibes and an honesty born from the soul and gospel undercurrents which bring the whole thing together like an unseen musical glue, more presence than substance.
Having accidently joined the school orchestra instead of jazz band at a young age, John soon fell in love with the violin and began a carer which saw him study and perform with the instrument at the highest levels, learn from some of the most iconic names and play as a member of, and composed for, the most highly regarded orchestras and ensembles working today. So what do you do once you have conquered such musical heights? In John’s case the answer is to write, arrange and perform all of the music for an album which chronicles your own life and which is a wonderful fusion of the traditional and the modern, rap and rapture, the beat driven and the beautiful, the street and the Stradivarian.
It is interesting to note that his chosen nickname is actually an acronym, All Day I Dream About Music and this album is indeed proof that his dreams are vivid, wide ranging and musically boundless. Caterpillar is a slow, R&B groove, Rain Please Stay is an emotive soulful, staccato ballad and Who Cares is a wonderful slice of modern classical reminiscent of another contemporary classical fusionist, Ed Alleyne Johnson, had he not been an Oxford University busker but brought up in one of Michigan’s tough inner-cities.
And if the music is exploratory, the lyrics also cover a lot of ground, weaving his faith through social commentary, trying to match the ideals he adheres to with the tougher, grittier world of modern urban life. But the importance of this album may not lie so much in the individual songs, great as they are, but in the way they are put together, that subtle and supple joining of musical worlds that rarely meet. Worlds which often represent very different paths through life and The Caterpillar Chronicles is the perfect reminder that we are not very different from one another other and that one ill planned or random act can change the whole course of your life, often for the good of everyone it touches.