Saturday, May 18, 2013

David Ake Bridges Posi-Tone 2013


You can count the number of labels with a firm commitment to the more straight ahead scene in modern jazz on one hand with Posi-Tone perhaps leading the way with the most dynamic young talent that can easily be considered the future of modern jazz. David Ake and his new release Bridges is certainly proof positive of this point with a virtual all star line up of rising stars and artists that are achieving that special level of creativity that other labels seem intent on stifling.

David Ake takes a giant leap forward with his new sextet and the inspired playing puts Bridges in that special category of the classic working band, the large ensemble sound of both Blue Note and Impulse from the mid 1960's. The co-conspirators here include renowned bassist Scott Colley, alto sax fire ball Peter Epstein, under appreciated trumpet phenom Ralph Alessi, the ever evolving talent of Ravi Coltrane and steady rollin' Mark Ferber on drums. A more modern riff on hard bop with a swing that permeates the soul while never losing the importantly lyrical flow of accessibility allows for the panache that most large ensembles struggle to find even after years of working together.

The title track "Bridges" is a syncopated exploratory of haunting mystery as both the tune and the album begin to develop an incredibly organic pulse highlighted by the brilliant offerings of Ravi Coltrane and Peter Epstein, two saxophone playing in a delightful harmonious union as one voice. Both bassist Scott Colley and pianist David Ake provide the subtle nuances of textured simplicity while working the odd metered tightrope without a net. If you are not familiar with the work of Ake don't worry, I wasn't either. Ake clearly demonstrates the technical proficiency and artistic depth that allows him to play with the band, not over or around them. "Dodge" is a nine minute plus epitome of what "Swing hard or go home" is all about for this critic. Call it chemistry or call it sonic synergy, led by the walking bass line of Colley and the minimalist approach of Coltrane where no notes are wasted this is a tight unit any way you slice it. "Light Bright" is much like the title tune "Bridges", an odd metered tune that is a wondrous hybrid of simplicity and complexity and Ralph Alessi on trumpet turns in a stellar performance.

What allows Ake to shine and Bridges to work so well is a balanced approach. No voice is lost in the shuffle and no artist approaches the self indulgent cliff so as to allow the listener to experience a true group dynamic rarely presented on this high of a level in jazz today.

An inspiring performance and one of the better large ensemble recordings today.



Tracks: Bridges; Sonomads; Waterfront; Story Table; We Do?; Boats (exit); Year In Review; Open/Balance; Dodge; Grand Colonial; Light Bright.

Personnel: David Ake: piano; Scott Colley: bass; Peter Epstein: alto sax; Ralph Alessi: trumpet; Ravi Coltrane: tenor sax; Mark Ferber: drums.

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