Thursday, June 3, 2010

Bassist John Hebert and his Trio Combine Acoustic and Electric Soundworlds

John Hebert seems to be the double bassist of choice on more and more projects in the modern jazz field lately. His new trio CD Spiritual Lover (Clean Feed) gives you some reasons why as it also shows a strong group conception in the fee-er yet tonally rooted zone. Pianist Benoit Delbecq shares the pre-arranged melodic roles with Hebert and also does some very nice exploratory, loosely horizontal soloing. Listen to him on "Le Reve Eveille," a lovely sort of modern ballad with some beautiful piano and bass improvisations. Benoit adds clavinet and synthesizer to the piano work, sometimes in combination to give the trio a more broadly expansive sound, sometimes to rock out a little in a free way.

Drummer Gerald Cleaver sounds terrific on this one, whether he's adding delicate Asian sounding percussive flourishes, using his brushes sensuously or madly swinging, freely accenting or bursting forward on some of the free-rock numbers. And John Hebert gets a beautiful sound, which is often tied to the ensemble context of the songs in a way that gives the music a fullness and drive that only a master of the art can manage. All in all, though, it is the compositions-concepts that distinguish this one as fully of our time, thoughtful but also forcefully climactic at the right moments.

This is a record that covers a good expanse of stylistic territory yet manages to sound distinctive and cohesive at all points. It combines the acoustic and the electric in a kind of organic unity. Good music is the aim, and that's what you get. I'll bet this band can be exciting to hear live. They are on this CD anyway!

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