Sunday, September 26, 2010

Scott Colley - Empire (CAM Jazz, 2010)

Scott Colley is one of the first call bassists on the modern jazz scene, having played with everyone from Andrew Hill to Chris Potter. On this album he is joined by a first class unit consisting of Ralph Alessi on trumpet, Bill Frisell on guitar, Craig Taborn on piano and Brian Blade on drums. The work on this album is atmospheric and subtle, with Frisell using effects to his guitar to add texture, and Blade keeping the percusssion shifting and dexterous. Highlights of the album are "The Gettin' Place" where Blade's spare brushes mesh well with Frisell's guitar accents making space for delicate trumpet. Nicely textured guitar work abetted by strong drums builds to a very exciting performance and then strong quartet improvisation. The ballad "For Sophia" has a slow and spacious opening anchored with thick bass and yearning guitar accents. Alessi's trumpet glides in for a slow and stately solo, building patient and thoughtful. "5:30 a.m." has a loud - soft dynamic, with piano rippling in waves over bass and drums. Trumpet builds in as the music increases in tempo to a strong conclusion. There are a couple of duet features like "Tomorrowland" where Colley and Frisell build an unusual soundscape and "Glut" that features a trumpet and bass duet that builds to a dynamic full band section. The music on this album is thoughtful and trim, with any extraneous ornamentation kept at bay. Colley's bass is rock solid at the center of it all and the interplay between Frisell and Blade makes me hope that they can meet again on future albums. Empire - amazon.com

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