Monday, June 28, 2010

Bassist-Composer Jamie Ousley's "Back Home"

Bass players used to be a more or less unsung lot. Yes, Paul Chambers, Charlie Mingus and Oscar Pettiford (OK, yeah, also Red Mitchell and Curtis Counce) led groups and made great records, but there didn't seem to be many of them that could sustain or maintain prolonged attention. All that changed a while ago and these days you find quite a few good players fronting bands.

One of them making a bid for the limelight is one Jamie Ousley, who has a beautiful tone, a matter-of-fact melodic solo style that has something in common with the great Charlie Haden in it's deliberation.

And he has a new, second album that will be hitting the stores this summer, Back Home (TIE 1076). For that effort he relies on the basic piano trio of himself, pianist Phillip Strange on piano, and Larry Marshall on drums. This is a most pleasing, melifluent nucleus that gets some heavy company: Ira Sullivan, on fluegelhorn, soprano, and alto flute, sounding as good as ever, Ed Calle on soprano, three different vocalists on three songs, and a number of others. The emphasis is on Ousley's compositional aplomb. He writes some very nice tunes that don't fade into a generic woodwork. They stand out as lyricism with grit, not sentimental but always tuneful. They range from Latin-tinged episodes like "Pasaje Tennessee," the balladic memorability of the title cut, and a range of other feels and formats, always effective and melodically distinct. Oh, and there are a few unusually treated covers, like the flamenco steeped "My Favorite Things," or a calypso version of one of Chopin's well-known Nocturnes.

Ousley comes up with a knockout. You might be finding yourself flat on your back on the canvas while someone counts, or no, that's the drums. But you'll just be happy anyway. Happy that you're hearing some very fetching music. Sorry that that will have to wait until its August 1st release date. It's worth a few days. It's good!

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