Young California native and tubist Ben Stapp is off to a promising start within global jazz circles. Shortly after touring with the Sacramento Youth Symphony in Europe, he advanced his studies at UCLA and then off to England for lessons with tuba master Roger Bobo. Hence, Stapp is intent upon broadening his musical scope and jazz-based relationships via his residency in Portugal amid numerous European performances and recordings with many jazz notables. On his first date as a leader, Stapp struts his technically gifted stuff with two progressive-jazz heavyweights: saxophonist Tony Malaby and percussionist Satoshi Takeishi.
Contrasts and contrapuntal movements abound. Stapp conveys startling maturity via his fusion of Far Eastern modal concepts and other stylizations with progressive jazz frameworks. He drives the variable flows while pumping up the undertow with percussion master Takeishi. And with Malaby's commanding presence, the trio whirls through complex unison lines where it seamlessly morphs a cavalcade of sharp-witted notions into a singular group sound.
Stapp possesses a fertile imagination, partly due to his brisk soloing jaunts abetted by extended note choruses and fluid flurries. In effect, the trio can act aggressive while throttling back matters into inward-looking dialogues. They bob, weave and bounce through a program that spurs notions of a get-up-and-go type demeanor. On "Once In Evora," Takeishi slaps, dabs and nestles around Stapp's beefy lines, all enhanced by Malaby's circular phrasings. The band sets its sights high, yet alters the current during "Power Drop," a composition that intimates an ominous sequence of events. Overall, Stapp's debut is a commendable display of jazz artistry. He's most assuredly one to watch.
Personnel: Benjamin Stapp: tuba; Tony Malaby: tenor and soprano saxophones; Satoshi Takeishi: percussion.