Nicholas Brancker may be the finest "unknown" bassist in contemporary instrumental music!
Brent Black / www.criticaljazz.com
So who is Nicholas Brancker? This Grammy nominated bassist is from Barbados. Normally Caribbean music is tossed into the category of world music without a second thought. Brancker along with contemporaries such as Elan Troutman are creating an exciting fusion of western improvisation with a island flair that transcends the stereotypical expectations. Psst...It takes more than a steel drum to qualify as Island music. Caribbean music is an amalgam of roughly nine sub genres with no distinct lines of separation, an open ended groove.
What makes Touching Bass work so well would be the synergy of not only a top flight band with improvisational vision of a bassist with mad skills and a vision that allows his sound to morph into a cultural by product of his own experience. "Happiness" kicks off the release with flavorful African rhythms and textured pop of melodic color to set the table for what is ahead. "Bassically Speaking" is that jazz nasty sound normally attached to players such as Stanley Clarke and Victor Wooten but this funk is all Nicholas Brancker with the best advices being turn it up to ten and then rip the knob off! Closing out the release "King of My Love" is an intimate ballad with an unusual vibrant manipulation of harmonic direction that borders on addictive, the next "Overjoyed."
Touching Bass is a huge winner for a myriad of reasons. Nicholas Brancker demonstrates range, a lyrical gift few can match, a global vision with a western execution that is the perfect marriage for sounds that are Latin, Caribbean, African and the free form funk we all know as the heartbeat of American improvisational music. An exotic collection of soundscapes that attack both the cerebral and visceral soul without warning.
Tracks: Happiness; Nikso; Breezing In Bathsheba; Bassically Speaking; Hello Sunshine; When I Close My Eyes; Reggaelude; It's Going Down!; Emmerton; Latinlude; Dance Of The Mokojumbies; How Many More; King Of My Love (My Shepherd Is).
Maybe the best Independent release for 2014? You decide. Previews are available at Amazon and iTunes.