Michael Janisch: Purpose Built (2010)
The first notes of Purpose Built's opening track draw attention, setting up a pleasurable jaunt into the world of Michael Janisch on this 30 year-old bassist's debut as a bandleader.
Born in the United States and now residing in London, England, Janisch is skilled at both the acoustic and the electric bass. He has performed with various jazz luminaries, including vibraphonist Gary Burton, trumpeter Roy Hargrove, pianist Shirley Horn, and saxophonist Joe Lovano. For his premiere release, he is accompanied by a varying ensemble of sidemen: pianist Aaron Goldberg, vibraphonist Jim Hart, trumpeter Jason Palmer, tenor saxophonists Paul Booth and Walter Smith III, guitarists Mike Moreno and Phil Robson, and alto saxophonist Patrick Cornelius. Drummer Johnathan Blake is the only musician other than Janisch to appear on all 12 tracks.
"Precisely Now" is an all-hands treat. With bass, drums, piano, and vibraphone providing the rhythm, Booth and Smith blend for an engaging melody. After the opening sequence, a tenor solo becomes a harmonious duet. The saxophones give way to Hart, with Janisch and Blake throwing down behind the vibes. Vibes and tenor enjoy a spirited call and response. Though the full ensemble is strong, the tenors are out front most of the way.
The classic "Love Is a Many Splendored Thing" showcases a straightforward trio, with Goldberg carrying the lead. During the pianist's middle solo, Janisch and Blake are thoroughly involvedeach in his own world while staying connected to Goldberg's.
"Serenade of the Seas" is one of the more ambitious tracks. Booth leads, backed subtly but effectively by Hart, Janisch, and Blake. The vibraphone solo is haunting, an effect complemented by Blake's mix of rim shots, tom rolls, and cymbals. Booth's solo is equally dramatic.
Purpose Built is a strong debut by Janisch. With eight original songs, he shows his strength as a composer instead of relying on remakes of standards, with the variable lineup showing some versatility.
Track Listing: Precisely Now; Adelante; Love Is a Many Splendored Thing; Shumshi; Milestones; Serenade of the Seas; Pukl-n-Pappo; Sofa Stomp; Lost Creek; Blood Count; Beep; Moment's Notice.
Personnel: Michael Janisch: acoustic bass (1, 3-7, 9-11), electric bass (2, 8, 12); Aaron Goldberg: piano (2, 3, 9, 10); Jim Hart: vibraphone (1, 4, 6, 11); Jason Palmer: trumpet (2, 7, 8, 11); Paul Booth: tenor saxophone (1, 2, 6); Mike Moreno: guitar (2, 8); Patrick Cornelius: alto saxophone (5, 11); Phil Robson: guitar (5, 9); Walter Smith III: tenor saxophone (1, 8, 11); Johnathan Blake: drums.