Steven Hashimoto's Mothra: Tradewind (2008)
Tradewind is an intellectually stimulating and highly entertaining modern jazz album by Chicago bassist Steven Hashimoto's group, Mothra. It features a highly accomplished lineup of musicians including guitarist Neal Alger, vibraphonist Kathy Kelly, saxophonists Dan Hesler and Michael Levin, and drummer Heath Chappell. Their adventurous grooves, complex chord progressions, and twisting and turning melody lines flow naturally throughout with a high level of ensemble interaction.
Hashimoto's electric bass style is reminiscent of the recordings of the late, great Jaco Pastorius, but with a modern, personalized sound. His ability to seamlessly move between modern jazz/rock-based grooves ("Now You Know"), slow ethereal ECM-influenced feels ("Haiku") and Latin/swing tunes ("Woikin' Wit' Mr. Poikins") creates a high level of diversity and keeps the album fresh. Giving each tune a unique feel, his versatile bass lines and grooves also fit perfectly in the overall vibe, providing new levels of inspiration for the ensemble.
For their part, Hashimoto's players each bring a strong understanding of the modern jazz language, as well as rich melodic and harmonic vocabularies. But their heightened sense of communication may be the main ingredient of the album's success. Without their interactivity, pieces such as "Eloise," "Happenstance" and "Samsara" could have faltered before they began. Instead, they are allowed to breathe and develop a unique character as the musicians ebb and flow within the nuances of each composition.
Tradewind is a modern jazz album, both sonically adventurous and easily accessible. Originally released by the Chicago Session subscription service, due to the popularity of the series' releases including this one, all of the labels titles are now readily available.
Track Listing: Eloise; Now You Know; Haiku; Woikin' Wit' Mr. Poikins; Tradewind; Happenstance; Farewell to Manzanar; Control Freak; Samsara; Barely Blue; Musashi's Song.
Personnel: Steven Hashimoto: electric bass; Kathy Kelly: vibraphone; Neal Alger: electric guitar; Dan Hesler: tenor, alto and soprano saxophone; Michael Levin: flute, clarinet, bass clarinet, tenor and soprano saxophone; Heath Chappell: drums.