Critically acclaimed Canadian bassist Mike Downes is back with another winner, In The Current!
Brent Black / www.criticaljazz.com
Mike Downes picked up a Juno win for his last release, Ripple Effect. For the uninitiated, A Juno is a Canadian Grammy which Downes earned for best traditional jazz release for 2014. A fine lyrical player, Downs is a harmonic chameleon.
Now we have the release of In The Current. A large ensemble format that is scored with a small ensemble feel. An eleven piece ensemble moves effortless for a release that runs the harmonic table from straight ahead swing to a more cinematic approach with exquisite melodies and a true working band sound. The aptly named Parallel Streams ensemble is clearly working on the same lyrical page as Downes as there is an amazing synergy of forward motion, a consistent lyrical sense of purpose.
A somewhat conceptualized release of life experiences, In The Current contains the more orchestrated "Still Waters Run Deep" which pairs nicely with the more aggressive and odd metered "Currents." The ensemble itself is first rate and includes some of Toronto's finest. The closing "Elation" is a smoker that again highlights the diversity of the band without getting lost on that pretentious path to no where.
Intimate yet amazingly strong, In The Current should have Juno heads turning in short order.
Mike Downes and The Parallel Streams Ensemble:
Jonathan Challoner: Trumpet and Flugelhorn; N. Jay Burr: Tuba; Colleen Allen: Alto, Soprano, Flute, Bass Clarinet; Shirantha Beddage: Bariton, Tenor, Soprano Saxophone, Flute, Clarinet, Bass Clarinet.; Kelly Jefferson: Tenor and Soprano Saxophones; Mike Downes: Acoustic Bass, Conductor; Mark Kelso: Drums and Percussion; James McDonald: F/Bb Horn, Descant Horn; Ted Quinlan: Guitar; Brian Dickinson: Piano and Keyboard; Kelsey Grant: Trombone.