May 28, 2024

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CD review: Dave Bass – No Boundaries 2019: Video, CD cover

The title – and music – suggests there are no boundaries between Jazz styles of music and Latin ones. On the music of No Boundaries the eminent pianist Dave Bass navigates the worlds of musical styles – from swing to Bebop and danzón to tango – moving easily between them and often blurring the very lines that some would suggest separate them.

Dave Bass, his fluid pianism, together with the extraordinary musicianship of Ted Nash and the rest of the ensemble is most affecting, suggesting that – indeed – there is no real boundary between the music of the world, just gloriously stylistically idiosyncratic ways to express the joy of song and dance.

As we expect from Mr Bass, everything sounds natural and inevitable. Ego doesn’t come into it: rather he acts as a conduit between music and listener with a purity that few can emulate (I am put in mind of Danilo Pérez). Ah yes, ‘intellectual’ pianists, I hear someone say. But to describe these figures as merely ‘intellectual’ could be to miss the whole humanity of their playing. Take the opening, “Lennie’s Pennies”, Swing Theory”, “Hallucinations” at the end or, somewhere in the middle of the repertoire, “Siboney” –classics of their period and style of playing. In Mr Bass’ hands they’re magically sinuous affairs – both in terms of his own approach as well as in the arrangements for others to follow. The way in which he colours the melodic lines and reaches into the various parts of the choruses with subtlety is magical. Or sample “Siboney” and his own composition, “Danzón #1” to marvel how the music is simultaneously intimate, yet possessed of an elegant gravity.

Mr Bass’ restrained ornamentation could fill a review on its own. But as in the case of this recording, he has graciously made all of the music a community affair. And what a splendid group of artists have come together to form the group. Ted Nash turns in extraordinary performances on a battery of instruments and is monumental in everything he does, helping to shape the overall sound as co-producer as well. But the core group also features the rest of the young rhythm section in the form of bassist Carlos Henriquez, who plays with mesmerising effect, and drummer Jerome Jennings, who is bright and springy, full of energy without freneticism, and brings a palpable joy to every thump and sizzle of drum and cymbal. The silken-voiced Karrin Allyson graces two tracks. Latin percussion colouring is brought to the date by Mauricio Herrera, Carlos Caro and Miguel Valdés – masters of their craft to a man.

But make no mistake; this is Dave Bass’ disc. And his musicianship twinkles with an easy playfulness, and – when the music demands – a tinge of appropriate gravity. Melodic lines are lofty and harmonies grand and dotted rhythms rendered with such poetry that everything echoes with a sense of utter joy. I’ve only had this recording for a short time. But I predict a long and happy future in its company.

Track list:

1: Lennie’s Pennies; 2: Spy Movie End Credits; 3: Agenbite Of Inwit; 4: If I Loved You; 5: La Mulata Rumbera; 6: Tango Adagio; 7: Time Of My Life; 8: Siboney; 9: Neither Have I Wings; 10: Danzón #1; 11: Swing Theory; 12: In The Rain; 13: Hallucinations


Dave Bass: piano; Ted Nash: flute, alto flute, clarinet, bass clarinet, soprano sax, alto sax, tenor sax (all tracks except 13); Karrin Allyson: vocals (4, 7); Carlos Henriquez: bass; Jerome Jennings: drums (all tracks except 5, 8, 10); Carlos Caro: guiro, bongos, bell (tracks 2, 4, 5, 8, 10); Miguel Valdes: batá, conga (tracks 5, 8, 10); Mauricio Herrera: timbales, maracas (tracks 4, 5, 8, 10)

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