Resavoir Credit: Alexa Viscius

Resavoir, the experimental jazz project of Chicago multi-instrumentalist and producer Will Miller, returned this month with a new self-titled album on local label International Anthem. As with Resavoir’s 2019 debut, Miller conceived and largely produced the material alone in his home, and the recordings feature contributions from friends and fellow Chicago musicians—among them guitarist and vocalist Elton Aura, vocalist and Wurlitzer player Akenya Seymour, guitarist Matt Gold, drummer Eddie Burns, bassist Lane Beckstrom, and Miller’s bandmates from local indie-rock outfit Whitney. Here, though, Miller reaches even further into a reserve of meditative composition, resulting in an album that’s as much about the moods it inspires as it is about songwriting and instrumentation. 

Resavoir appears to be something of a home for Miller. The conservatory-trained musician has played trumpet in Whitney and performed on tracks by superstars such as Lil Wayne and Chance the Rapper, and his production credits include a chart-topping single for SZA (last year’s “Blind”). Resavoir encompassess this musical prowess and wealth of experience while serving as a peaceful dream space where he has room to express his creativity in new and imaginative ways.

Miller’s compositions incorporate various genres and moods, including soulful jazz and silky hip-hop. To my ears, his richest and most serene moments recall the ambient works of electronic jazz artists of the 70s and 80s, such as Beverly Glenn Copeland and Laraaji. On “Sunset” and “Bluetopia,” Miller elegantly achieves complete emotional escape. With soft arpeggiated synth lines, a bed of strings, or the steady opening and closing of a hi-hat, Resavoir invites listeners to get lost in its gentle, forgiving universe. 

The album’s cover art was designed by a longtime Resavoir collaborator, esteemed Chicago graphic designer and artist Crystal Zapata, and it depicts the blurred silhouettes of two birds flying into a sunset sky whose falling shroud of blue feels comforting despite being on the edge of darkness. With Resavoir, there’s no need to fear the coming night when what follows is the brilliant surprise of a new day’s first perfect light.

Resavoir The band will be joined by Macie Stewart, Lane Beckstrom, Eddie Burns, Kenneth Leftridge Jr., Irvin Pierce, Matt Gold, and others. Sat 12/9, 8:30 PM, Constellation, 3111 N. Western, $20, 18+