Amidst the plethora of bassists that dot the global landscape, Mike Downes is an emerging force.
Brent Black / www.criticaljazz.com
Don't get me wrong, Mike Downes is far from a newbie as head of the bass department at Humber College but in this stagnant global mélange of an economy the Independent artist does have a hard time catching a break. Ripple Effect is a beautifully layered textural conversation with a trio performing as one harmonic train of thought.
There is nothing ostentatious with this recording. Odd meter is not used as a self indulgent platform for abstract lyrical exploratory but instead there is indeed a ripple effect in the exchange of musical ideas between the principle players here. Deceptively simple but with a cerebral flow of thought finds the compositions somewhat personal and introspective while maintaining a restrained elegance that never wanders over the melancholy edge as may be expected. Three highlights here include the Mike Downes compositions "Vanishing Point" along with "Two Sides of A Coin" and "A Reflection." The lyrical and slightly blues infused "Two Sides of A Coin" opens with a delightful solo exploration from Downes while the more person "A Reflection" is the lyrical by product of contemplating the passing of his father. The technique and interplay between Downes and pianist Robi Botos is remarkable as their own lyrical visions become intertwined within each piece and allow the unit to function as a true trio instead of a leader with two afterthoughts. Drummer Ethan Ardelli plays with a nuanced finesse that is often attempted and without near the captivating results. The addition of guitarist Ted Quinlan on the title track simply adds another melodic layer to this meticulously constructed sonic mosaic.
Independent artists are truly under the gun from all sides. Mike Downes is a legitimate triple threat as instrumentalist, composer and respected educator. Don't believe me?
Preview the release for yourself...
Tracks: Brzo; Bell Park; Introvisation; Vanishing Point; Ripple Effect; I Hear A Rhapsody; So Maki Sum Se Rodila; Campfire Waltz; Two Sides Of A Coin; La Cote D'Or; A Reflection.