Saturday, March 22, 2014

Clovis Nicolas Nine Stories Sunnyside 2014

One of only a handful of bassists cutting any new or worthwhile ground in modern jazz. A stellar recording!
Brent Black /
New York is the mecca, the harmonic ground zero from which great improvisational music is born. There are those with both feet planted firmly in the past and while admirable from purely a historical point of view, incredibly damaging to a music that is far from stagnant. Clovis Nicolas and Nine Stories join the ranks of those innovative and inspired artists that keep one foot in the past but both eyes on the future!
Nine Stories could be likened to nine one act plays, each uniquely different yet all somehow fitting together to showcase a broader portrait of the playwrights vision. A graduate of Julliard and with the good fortune to have played with such luminaries as Peter Bernstein and Harry Allen, the eventual ground work for one of the better debut releases of the last several years finally came to fruition. Five originals and four classics have been meticulously arranged to move from a more classic to modern jazz influence. The hybrid sound for Nine Stories is not unique yet the precise and open ended execution is. A work that embraces a more organic cerebral approach while taking a deceptively subtle visceral attack when least expected.
Nine Stories is an expansive work without ever losing a uniformity of focus. The work is solid and beyond reproach. There is a spark to the more contemporary riff on "Thorn's Tea" which might best be described as smoldering embers of lyrical passion. The arrangement on the Sonny Rollins classic "The Bridge" is a vibrant Big Apple homage that stretches the harmonic limits of the ensemble cast. The standard include an intimate performance with bass and guitar on "Sweet Lorraine" while "You and The Night And The Music" embraces the old school approach with a stunning solo from Nicolas.
The walking bass has been in the jazz witness protection program for too long, Clovis Nicolas brings it back. A fabulous debut release that hits on all harmonic cylinders!
Easily a best of 2014!
Tracks: Pisces; None Shall Wander; Juggling; Mothers and Fathers; Thon's Tea; The Bridge; Tom's Number; You and The Night and the Music; Sweet Lorraine.
Personnel: Bass: Clovis Nicolas; Trumpet: Riley Mulherkar; Tenor and Soprano Saxophone: Luca Stoll; Guitar: Alex Wintz; Piano: Tadataka Unno; Drums: Jimmy Macbride