There can be something very special about a bassist-led session. Perhaps it is their knowledge of both time and melody that, when coupled with the rich emotional sound of their instrument, results in some of the most creative jazz. On all these counts, Steve LaSpina's Remember When, makes its mark.
Composed in the aftermath of the unexpected death of his young son, Scott Anthony, Remember When is somewhat surprisingly not a dark depressive work. Instead, LaSpina has eloquently chronicled the shock, depression, panic, guilt, anger and ultimate reconciliation and hope that he has experienced with his continued healing. Beginning with drummer Jeff Hirshfield lightly brushing a beat, LaSpina, with trumpeter David Ballou, guitarist Vic Juris and saxophonist Andrew Rathbun, presents a slow and deliberate take on "Madness" that numbs with its controlled approach.
"Lost in the Abyss" is a quick tempoed in tandem downward ride that threatens to spiral out of control before Hirshfield leads the way out and while "When there's Nothing Left to do or Say" is a slow stark portrait of aloneness, other pieces uplift with their outlook. The pleasing melody of "A Better Place" begins the healing process as some rationale creeps in to the irreconcilable, and "Forward Motion" brings catchy upbeat lines from each player into focus, as they are able to face the future. Likewise, "Remember When" is a soothing look backward that calms courtesy of a pleasing touch by Vic Juris, while LaSpina's bowing and plucking accurately reflect the true depth of his feeling on "How I Miss You." Following the diversion of "Seduction," including a reprise of the tango "Hernando's Hideaway," "When the Time Comes," based on the recognizable changes of "Amazing Grace," serves a fitting conclusion to a gripping statement.
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This review originally appeared in AllAboutJazz-New York .
Personnel: Steve LaSpina- bass; Dave Ballou- trumpet; Andrew Rathbun- tenor & soprano saxophones; Vic Juris- guitar; Jeff
Hirshfield- drums. Recorded: November 2002.