A prevailing mood of relaxation, albeit with a constant background aura of quiet tension.
Martin Longley 2009-08-14
The New York bassist John Patitucci is renowned for his work as part of Wayne Shorter's quartet, one of the most intuitively joined set of players in jazz. For his latest solo recording, he keeps the line-up down to a trio, providing the perfect setting from which to showcase his rich tone and detailed high-note dexterity.
Unfortunately, Patitucci feels the need to dedicate most of his compositions to prime influences from jazz history, in what is becoming a pervasive trend. But this is no distraction for the listener, who can simply set aside the titles and listen to the music.
Patitucci's bass is suitably full in the mix, as he ably moves from acoustic to electric, highlighting his nimble thrumming and snappy thumbing in turn. On the opening Monk/Trane, Patitucci launches straight into a jauntily swinging solo, establishing his leader's voice. Brian Blade's brushes caress his skins, whilst Joe Lovano is fruitily hoarse, with the gentle coarseness of a feline tongue. The trio shifts their supple contortions, heading into a zone of swinging abstraction. Messiaen's Gumbo is about as far from the titular French composer's world as it's possible to get, as Patitucci's electric bass hops around Blade's big snare-ring rat-a-tat-tat. Lovano is deeply fur-balled, mewling with hot milky breath.
Meditations wanders into Pat Metheny territory, all washing and spumy, with an endless echo on the hi-bass; but one of the strongest tunes is Mali, with Lovano sounding like fellow saxophonist Jan Garbarek at his most rugged or, more oddly, like Pete Wareham from Acoustic Ladyland. Lovano switches to clarinet for Scenes From an Opera, which has a fitting sense of atmospheric painterliness.
The prevailing mood of this set is one of relaxation, even if there's a constant background aura of quiet tension, a hint of highly-strung intensity. A portentous bass solo opens the deeply mysterious Safari, whilst Joe Hen is a sleek strider, elbowing all competition aside. The outstanding Play Ball is surely the slowest game ever played, teasing with its languid progress prior to the succinct bass-layering title track, which closes the disc with thoughts of Michael Brecker.