Tom Knific Quartet: Lines of Influence (2009)
Lines of Influence is an energetic and exciting modern jazz release by multi-talented bassist/accomplished jazz educator Tom Knific. Featuring several generations of past students alongside his son, John, Knific has assembled an ensemble that not only represents his accomplishments as an educator and mentor, but performs at a level that only a working band can.
Their interaction has been formed over several years of jamming, rehearsing and gigging together in various venues across the Midwest. Their years of experience culminate in an album that not only reflects the extraordinary individual talent each musician possesses, but the feeling of ensemble that this group encompasses on every melody, solo, and groove.
The tracks that Knific has chosen for this release were mostly written by members of the ensemble, with the exception of a bold reinterpretation of the Beatles' "Eleanor Rigby" and Joshua Redman's "Can a Good Thing Last Forever?," which serves as the perfect closer, both musically and metaphorically. Knific contributes two tracks"Home Bass" and "Little Wonder"and co-wrote the title track with son John who, aside from proving to be a venerable composer, lays down some of the albums most memorable solos, including the hard-swinging "Gotta Give it Up."
Knific is in fine form as a comper and soloist throughout the album, something that shouldn't come as a surprise given the talent represented by his former students in the ensemble. His forward moving sense of time is constantly driving the groove and firmly securing the band in the pocket, regardless of tempo or style.
The bassist's comping behind Chris Beckstrom's sax solo on "Gotta Give it Up" is stellar. His bass lines are simple yet highly effective, and act as the perfect catalyst for Beckstrom's creativity, after which Knific launches into a memorable solo of his own. Showcasing his highly developed sense of melody, firm grasp of the blues vernacular and modern phrasing, Knific proves once again why he is one of the most respected bassists and jazz educators on the scene today. The tune finishes with some very strong trading between the members of the ensemble and drummer Keith Hall, who feeds off of each soloist as he lays down some very tasty and impressive fours of his own.
Lines of Influence is a modern jazz record showcasing the diverse nature of Knific's writing and performing. It is also a testimonial to his accomplishments as an educator and mentor, showcasing the talent that has emerged from the Western Michigan University jazz program over recent years, one of jazz education's most accomplished programs.
Track Listing: Eidas Retsis; Eleanor Rigby; Home Bass; Lines of Influence; Little Wonder; Gotta Give it Up; Can a Good Thing Last Forever?
Personnel: Tom Knific: bass; Keith Hall: drums; Chris Beckstrom: saxophone; John Knific: piano; Ryan Andrews: percussion.