Clovis Nicolas: Nine Stories (2014)
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Ron Carter's judgment regarding the talent of a fellow double bassist can't be wrong. The acclaimed musician, who has recorded more than 2,500 albums and was a fundamental member of the Miles Davis Quintet, highly praises the sound and compositions of Clovis Nicolas.
Carter wrote the liner notes to Nicolas' Nine Stories, the first solo album from a young but experienced double bassist born in the Ivory Coast, who earned a Bachelor's and a Master's degree in Music at the distinguished Juilliard School.
Before recording his individual debut, Nicolas cultivated a good reputation after playing with eminent musicians like Branford Marsalis, Brad Mehldau, Andre "Dede" Ceccarelli, Michel Legrand, Stephane Belmondo, Baptiste Trotignon and, more recently, at the tribute show "Ron Carter at 75" on March 2012 at the Alice Tully Hall of Juilliard School.
The musician who has proven his impressive skills at world famous jazz festivals like Montreux, Marciac, Montreal and Vienne makes a brilliant arrangement of "The Bridge," a 1962 melody from celebrated tenor saxophonist, Sonny Rollins. If the listener closes his or her eyes it is not so difficult to imagine the Williamsburg Bridge in New York City, where Rollins practiced day and night before the birth of his comeback album, also titled The Bridge.
Nicolas and his men do a respectful but exciting homage to the sax giant by playing with their heart and soul. The double bassist masters his instrument and creates a perfect atmosphere for young Seattle trumpeter Riley Mulherkar and Swiss saxophonist Luca Stoll to show why they were handpicked by Nicolas for this record.
"Thon's Tea" is another of the album's stimulating themes. Its speed and rhythm changes seem to be linked to the mood of the band. Alex Wintz melancholic tone on the guitar is contrasted by energetic drummer Jimmy Macbride.
"Pisces," the first melody of the album, sets the bar high with its impeccable sound and flawless double bass execution. Riley Mulherkar also shows his depurated trumpet technique. It's a perfect melody to listen to live at Birdland, Blue Note, Dizzy's or any other noted New York City jazz club in which Nicolas has played for more than a decade.
"You and the Night and the Music," a 1934 standard composed by Arthur Schwartz and Howard Dietz, is dusted off, reinvented and included in Nine Stories by the young jazz band and its leader, who grew up in Provence, France. One of the piece's most interesting moments comes when guitarist Alex Wintz, saxophonist Luca Stoll and Nicolas play the same notes and chase each others' sound.
"Sweet Lorraine" is the last theme of the album and it's an emotive duo between Clovis Nicolas and Alex Wintz, who studied first at the renowned Berklee College of Music in Boston and then at the Juilliard School.
Nine Stories is a formidable album for double bass enthusiasts and music lovers alike. Clovis Nicolas is a young but mature jazz artist who's ready to fly high.
Track Listing: Pisces; None Shall Wander;
Mothers and Fathers;
You and the Night and the Music;
Personnel: Clovis Nicolas: bass;
Riley Mulherkar: trumpet;
Luca Stoll: tenor and soprano saxophone;
Alex Wintz: guitar;
Tadataka Unno: piano;
Jimmy Macbride: drums.
Record Label: Sunnyside Records