Flute Bass-ics steps above the basic jazz flute foray by one, enlisting the services of the always sublime Ron Carter Quartet, and two, taking advantage of Chip Shelton's talent with an array of different flutes. The leader plays concert flute in C, B flat flute d'amour, contra-bass and bass flutes, alto flute in G, ethnic wood flutes, and piccolo to mix up the sounds.
With veteran bassist Carter on board – playing and producing – it's impossible to go wrong. Like the recent Carter release, When Skies are Grey... (Blue Note, 2001), which features this same quartet (Carter, bass; Stephen Scott, piano; Lewis Nash, drums; Steven Kroon, percussion), Flute Bass-ics is a low-key yet vibrant and accessible collection of smooth flowing melodies.
Flute outings need a counterpoint bite on them or they risk sounding too sweet and airy (reviewer's bias, admittedly), and percussionist Steven Kroon fills this role by adding just the right amount of punctuation to the flautist's long flowing lines.
Six of the eight tunes are Shelton originals, in addition to the classic "I'll Remember April" and Tad Dameron's "The Scene is Clean." Shelton's "Biko and Mandela" opens the set with an Afro-Pop feel, Shelton blowing alto flute; "Blue Chip" is a duet between bassist Carter and Shelton, manifesting itself as a synergistic conversation; and "In an Island Way" explores a danceable reggae beat, with Kroon adding a variety of percussion sounds and pianist Steve Scott slipping dashes of delicate flavor into the rhythm.
The Ron Carter Quartet in top form backing Chip Shelton, a talented top-form musician and songwriter.