David Bennett Thomas: Jazz Portrait (2012)
"Wave of Light" opens up with a piano glimmer beneath Ron Kerber's' luminous soprano saxophone. The feeling is pastoral, like something from the songbook of saxophonist Jan Garbarek. Guitarist Kevin Hanson glistens into the mix, leading to a burble of gentle percussion. Trumpeter John Swana sits in here and on four more of the set's tunes, playing the EVI (Electronic Valve Instrument)---a trumpeter player's synthesizer that can create a wide range of tones, sounding here like a slightly souped-up wind instrument; a plugged-in oboe, perhaps.
"Seaborne," is meticulously arranged, as is the entire set. The mood is gentle and drifting, and Bennett's comping behind Micah Jones' fluid bass solo is economical and understated, leading to his own intricately lovely solo, followed by Swana, his EVI adding a modern hue. With a fusion feeling and tight groove, "Nasty Roche" opens with a nasty guitar lick that gets grittier still in Hanson's solo, and Kerber blowing down and dirty on tenor sax, while "Dieu" has a solemn and deliberate mood, with piano, tenor sax and piano conversing in serious tones.
James Joyce represents serious literature. Using the author's classic novel as a jumping off point for a jazz recording, Thomas has come up with a superbly crafted, accessible and nourishing work of art.
Track Listing: Wave of Light; Seaborne; Nasty Roche; Fleece of Clouds; His Heart Danced; Distant Pools; The Color the Sea Was at Night; Dieu; Music Leaping; The Dying Day.
Personnel: John Swana: EVI (1, 2, 6, 7, 9); Ron Kerber: soprano and tenor saxophones; David Bennett Thomas: piano, percussion (4); Kevin Hanson: guitar; Micah Jones: bass; Erik Johnson: drums; Arturo Stable: percussion (1, 4, 7).
Record Label: Vectordisc Records