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CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Peter Van Huffel/Michael Bates/Jeff Davis: Boom Crane

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Berlin-based saxophonist, composer Peter Van Huffel is the lead voice on Boom Crane's debut outing, featuring the dynamo rhythm section of New York residents, bassist Michael Bates and drummer Jeff Davis. As one would anticipate, the saxophonist imparts his creatively focused, restless nature into the grand schema. He's a mover and shaker via his unwieldy theme- construction exercises, spiked with off-center time signatures and animated voicings, often flanked with iron-fisted chutzpah and exceptional fluency. Hence, the musicians go full steam ahead by integrating a free-form hue into these byzantine and rather unconventional jaunts. The element of surprise ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Peter Van Huffel/Michael Bates/Jeff Davis: Boom Crane

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Pity the neighbors of the jazz trio Boom Crane. It's not that their garage band approach to music making is off-putting or offensive, it's that the ferocity of their approach is just so demanding. Saxophonist Peter Van Huffel's New York trio of Michael Bates (bass) and Jeff Davis (drums) release this, their inaugural recording, as a purely leaderless effort. Each player contributes music here, and thankfully the engineer has mixed the sound to feature this egalitarian trio. The disc opens with “More Room," the only wholly free jazz piece on the recording. That's significant because the remainder of ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Michael Bates: Acrobat: Music For, And By, Dimitri Shostakovich

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To set the record straight: America has not taken a step closer to being more tolerant of any kind of musical rebel. It does not tolerate the one that conforms (for he or she too is a rebel), nor does it tolerate the one who is the objector. Like in every other aspect of life--other than art--America finds the staid and middle of the road and one most likely to sell the most records most acceptable. Dimitri Shostakovich was anything but that kind of artist. His was an art where emotional extremes collided, successfully juxtaposing tragic intensity with surreal wit. ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Michael Bates: Live In New York

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Prevalent in the musical ethic of Michael Bates is a masterful balance of instrumental and compositional elements. Live in New York is Bates' group Outside Sources--Russ Johnson (trumpet), Quinsin Nachoff (saxophone and clarinet) and drummer Jeff Davis --documented at a Fall 2008 Cornelia Street Café gig. The initial snap of the snare on the opening “Bloodletting," bolstered by the low resonance of the bass, is immediately engaging. Nachoff's searing buzz that follows quickly transforms into tight melody with a definite resolution. This introduction establishes the aesthetic for the rest of the album: strong writing with particular emphasis ...

MEGAPHONE

Michael Bates: Lessons From The Road

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By Michael Bates

Touring can be both exhausting and exhilarating, especially as a bandleader. The last few months have brought reminders of this as I was planning, booking and finally, actually touring with my quartet in support of my recent CD Clockwise on Dave Douglas' Greenleaf Music label. As part of this tour, Greenleaf asked me to post updates on their blog. One of those posts chronicled a trip from Amsterdam to Lyon that included a botched wake-up call, a three-hour sprint in a car to Brussels, train tickets from Brussels to Lyon, France that somehow needed ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Michael Bates: Clockwise

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On Sep. 17, 2008, bassist Michael Bates’ band Outside Sources took the stage for two sets at Cornelia Street Café to celebrate the release of Clockwise, proving itself to be a tight unit that reveled in richness, unpredictability, astounding technical ability and near-telepathic interaction. The press material surrounding the CD directly referz to pianoless quartets led by Ornette Coleman and Dave Douglas. The explosiveness of the improvisational explorations and the richness of the harmonies certainly make those comparisons more than viable.What makes the pianoless jazz quartet such a compelling format is that each member depends on ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Michael Bates: Clockwise

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Clockwise is the third offering from Canadian-born bassist Michael Bates' ensemble Outside Sources. Charting impressive compositional growth since his previous album, A Fine Balance (Between the Lines, 2004), this session finds the Brooklyn-based composer leading his quartet through a dynamically varied program. Fueled by youthful verve, he deftly combines adventurous post-bop structures with the advanced compositional strategies of classical chamber music.

Bates' current touring quartet features longstanding partner Canadian saxophonist Quinsin Nachoff and ubiquitous Downtown musicians Russ Johnson (trumpet) and Jeff Davis (drums). With studied virtuosity, sensitive listening skills and intuitive interplay, they seamlessly blur the line between ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Michael Bates: A Fine Balance

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The shadow of Dave Douglas hovers over bassist Michael Bates' debut recording. However, Douglas' influence is understandable, because both are faculty members at the Banff Center of the Arts. Despite the noticeable stylistic overlap, Bates contributes a strong program of originals that stretch beyond academic imitation.

Bates draws influence from a fairly novel place: Douglas' earliest writing from his days as a member of New and Used. The alternating pastoral melodies and angular urban funk of that seminal early 1990s quintet prove ripe for rediscovery. Bates extrapolates and updates an ensemble sound that never fully realized its potential ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Michael Bates' Outside Sources: A Fine Balance

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Michael Bates says that as a jazz musician, he takes a punk attitude to things. If anything, that is a refreshing attitude. When it comes down to music, he achieves a fine balance. He has all the right ingredients: a jazz sensibility, an open approach to classical music, a tingly edginess, and a sense of adventure.

Bates has a band that helps him along in no uncertain terms. Reed specialist Quinsin Nachoff is exciting as he lays bare unusual vistas in his improvisation; Kevin Turcotte, one of the finest trumpeters around, slips compactly into the mould and brings his own ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Michael Bates Outside Sources: A Fine Balance

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Call me biased, but jazz has the distinction of giving us some pretty good recordings on the whole. The downside to that is an ultimate dilution of the music for public consumption. What will one more performance of “'Round Midnight do for us? Michael Bates' A Fine Balance flies in the face of this product dilution. This music should be filed under “And Now for Something Different... and be proud of it. Perhaps best classified as avant-garde jazz, A Fine Balance actually defies categorization in the same way progressive art often does.

Outside Sources is steered by bassist/composer ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Michael Bates: Outside Sources

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Outside Sources successfully confirms Michael Bates’ commitment to freeform exploration. Bates and bandmates Quinsin Nachoff and Mark Timmermans push most of music’s conventional boundaries and the blur of understanding inspires an hour of musical interest. “Tunisian” brings a pulsing start with Nachoff’s off-timed saxophone melody. One pictures a view from atop a camel’s back: while the bass-drum tandem of Bates and Timmermans takes on more than the two dimensions we hear. “Tunisian” reveals a beautiful displacement of rhythm in the ethnic culture of the idea. Within ten minutes, more conventional jazz fans get a break in ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Michael Bates: Outside Sources

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This new recording by bassist Michael Bates has pop music appeal. I’m not talking about saccharine-covered smooth jazz elevator music, but a jazz record that hooks you and draws you in, with not so much catchy tunes as engaging ideas.

Bates and his fellow Canadian bandmates, drummer Mark Timmermans and saxophonist Quinsin Nachoff, favor a world music meets classical music at the jazz market. Sure, this combination has been cooked up before, it’s just that the flavors chosen by Bates compositions are spot on.

Different spins of this disc find differing aspects that attract the listener.



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