Jeff Gauthier: Mask (2002)
Mask is Gauthier's third release as a leader, and his best yet.
Gauthier and the Cline brothers are joined by bassist Joel Hamilton (Gregg Bendian Trio) and pianist David Witham, a Jaki Byard protege. Mask is an update on the melodic music of 1970s Pat Metheny, Bill Evans, and the explorations of Keith Jarrett. Goatette is benefited by the rare treat of Nels Cline's acoustic work on several tracks. Known for his ever-shredding guitar, Nels eschews the noise for these smart compositions.
The album kicks off with the 5/4 rhythmic "Clea's Bounce," a catchy connect-the-dots piece. Their "Waltz For K.P." is a nifty vehicle for subtle changes as Gauthier and Nels Cline exchange bebop licks. They remake Ornette Coleman's "Enfant" into a fusion (in the good sense) piece. There is a quietly beautiful moment here. Bassist Joel Hamilton plays the sweetest arco solo on "The Fools" and Alex Cline's composition "Forgiveness," is a simple poem of peace.
The record revolves around the nearly 18-minute title piece in four-movements. Written while Gauthier was in Guanajuato Mexico on Christmas Eve, his tequila-enhanced experience with the traditional masks of local residents yielded this fine composition. The spooky circumstance of Gauthier's evening with Billie Holiday singing Cole Porter is woven into his writing. The rocked-out beginning yields a creepy gong and percussion passage before Nels Cline tears through the closing. A very strong effort.
Track Listing: Clea's Bounce; Waltz For K.P.; Enfant; The Fools; Ephemera - For Eric; Mask; Forgiveness.
Personnel: Jeff Gauthier: electric violin, violin; Nels Cline: electric guitar, 12-Sstring acoustic guitar; David Witham: piano, electric piano; Joel Hamilton: bass; Alex Cline: drums, percussion.
Record Label: Cryptogramophone