A lyrical bassist with virtuosic technique, Darek Oles shares his love of straight-ahead jazz with many fellow musicians. Both in the U.S. and in his native Poland, he continues to nurture our love for a melody through his work with various ensembles. With his debut as leader, Oles also introduces the public to his musical compositions: nine originals that swing gently with compassion.
Oles and pianist Brad Mehldau interpret the first five ballads of the session as a duo. Their seamless interplay moves fluidly through cool waters. On his blues, the bassist states his theme with a vocalist's passion. He and Mehldau tie their intuitive thoughts together succinctly. In their hands, the Great American Songbook standard "You Don't Know What Love Is" receives a unique rhythmic treatment, albeit fluid and graceful. The duo raps this one out in 7/4 with a spark of energy. Their calm demeanor and cool freshness seal the piece's underlying motion tightly.
The Los Angeles Jazz Quartet has introduced Oles to straight-ahead audiences for nearly a decade. After capturing the runner-up prize in the 1996 Cognac Hennessey Jazz Search, the bassist and his partners released several poignant albums. Guitarist Larry Koonse, saxophonist Chuck Manning and Mark Ferber join him here for "Before the Journey" and "Precious Moments," evoking the fulfilling experiences that they've shared together. Keeping the scene light and cool, the quartet swings gently with a graceful, mainstream air. Everyone solos.
With Adam Benjamin and Nate Wood, the bassist interprets the final three compositions on his program as a group of mellow trio outings. Lyricism remains the emphasis as Oles solos lovingly with heartfelt compassion. The album's high point comes on Bennie Maupin's searing cameo, giving the program a fitting conclusion.
Several of Cryptogramophone's new releases, including Like A Dream , come with a ten-track sampler that highlights the label's artists. Mehldau and Oles lead off the compilation with "You Don't Know What Love Is," from the above session. Cellist Erik Friedlander follows with "Consternation," featuring an acoustic, chamber jazz ensemble with a powerful voice. Mark Dresser and Denman Maroney offer a light piano-voice-bass adventure on "Appertivo" that swings enthusiastically. It's intriguing. Wordless vocals are one of the glues that have held jazz together over the decades.
The Nels Cline Singers rock hard on "He Still Carries a Torch for Her," while Jeff Gauthier's Goatette ensemble interprets a mellow "Waltz for K.P." Pianist Alan Pasqua, bassist Dave Carpenter and drummer Peter Erskine offer a sophisticated "Blues for Carin'," honoring the late Eric von Essen. Their loving caress proves rewarding. Scot Ray's quintet storms with a solid rock foundation, while the Don Preston Trio pays homage to both Frank Zappa and Eric Dolphy.
"A Cry for John Brown," by the Scott Amendola Band, provides proof of modern mainstream, leading-edge growth; then, the Alex Cline Ensemble closes out the sampler with an ethereal foray into impressionism. The label has much to offer, and it's all representative of the directions in which we are now headed. The future of modern jazz looks pretty bright.
Personnel: Darek Oleszkiewicz- bass; Brad Mehldau, Adam Benjamin- piano; Mark Ferber, Nate Wood- drums; Chuck Manning- tenor saxophone, soprano saxophone; Larry Koonse- guitar; Bennie Maupin- tenor saxophone on part two of "Conclusion."