All About Jazz

Home » Articles » CD/LP/Track Review

Dear All About Jazz Readers,

If you're familiar with All About Jazz, you know that we've dedicated over two decades to supporting jazz as an art form, and more importantly, the creative musicians who make it. Our enduring commitment has made All About Jazz one of the most culturally important websites of its kind in the world reaching hundreds of thousands of readers every month. However, to expand our offerings and develop new means to foster jazz discovery we need your help.

You can become a sustaining member for a modest $20 and in return, we'll immediately hide those pesky Google ads PLUS deliver exclusive content and provide access to future articles for a full year! This combination will not only improve your AAJ experience, it will allow us to continue to rigorously build on the great work we first started in 1995. Read on to view our project ideas...

227

Michael Bates: A Fine Balance

Troy Collins By

Sign in to view read count
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 during the early Knitting Factory days.

The compositions are engaging, and Bates' ensemble brings these tunes to life. The session's MVP, saxophonist Quinsin Nachoff, displays a timbre and attack far more adventurous and freewheeling than on his own recent release, Magic Numbers (Songlines, 2006). With looser articulation and a smeary, expressive tone, trumpeter Kevin Turcotte does a fantastic job of sidestepping the Douglas comparisons, marking out his own sound and phrasing. Drummer Mark Timmermans provides adept and sympathetic accompaniment throughout this varied set. Bates is an equitable team player, eschewing the spotlight for a support role.

Trafficking in the same angular linearity and rhythmic tension as many of his peers, Bates places equal emphasis on melodic development. A handful of these tunes sit comfortably in the chamber music tradition, but the majority combine classical austerity with freewheeling jazz improvisation. Pastoral melodies full of long tones and gradually ascending dramatic arcs alternate with acoustically derived urban funk rhythms full of jagged, clipped phrases and vacillating meters.

Pieces like "Coppertone" and "Prodigal" are representative. The former is a stellar example of the ensemble's finely tuned internal dynamics, featuring metric modulation, chameleonic stop-start rhythm structures, and animated group call and response.

"Prodigal" alternates a sweeping melodic theme with brusque punctuations that build to a loose free bop section invoking Ornette Coleman's classic Atlantic recordings. Fuelled by Timmermans and Bates, Nachoff's jittery, spastic tenor solo barks out staccato distress signals like Morse code.

The young bassist proves to be an excellent arranger on "Prokofiev." Based on the revered composer's Cello Sonata in C Minor, the piece quickly circumvents chamber music austerity for emotional expressionism. Turcotte's regal trumpet solo clears the way for Nachoff's magnificent, unhinged tenor solo, which is laden with controlled altissimo screaming and impassioned cries.

While Michael Bates has yet to fully shed the influence of his elders, he demonstrates prodigious talent on this excellent, inviting debut.


Track Listing: Small Obstacles; On Equilibrium; Entrance; Charcoal; Prodigal; Prokofiev; Partly Innocent; St. Helen; Coppertone; Simple Interlude.

Personnel: Michael Bates: bass; Quinsin Nachoff: reeds; Kevin Turcotte: trumpet; Mark Timmermans: drums.

Title: A Fine Balance | Year Released: 2006 | Record Label: Between the Lines

Tags

comments powered by Disqus

CD/LP/Track Review
Megaphone
CD/LP/Track Review
Read more articles
Northern Spy

Northern Spy

Stereoscopic
2015

buy
Acrobat: Music For, And By, Dimitri Shostakovich

Acrobat: Music For,...

Sunnyside Records
2012

buy
Live In New York

Live In New York

Greenleaf Music
2009

buy
 

Clockwise

Greenleaf Music
2009

buy
Clockwise

Clockwise

Greenleaf Music
2008

buy
A Fine Balance

A Fine Balance

Between the Lines
2006

buy

Related Articles

Read with whom you can be who you are CD/LP/Track Review
with whom you can be who you are
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: September 21, 2018
Read Inner Core CD/LP/Track Review
Inner Core
by Troy Dostert
Published: September 21, 2018
Read Dirigo Rataplan II CD/LP/Track Review
Dirigo Rataplan II
by Jerome Wilson
Published: September 21, 2018
Read The Window CD/LP/Track Review
The Window
by Chris Mosey
Published: September 21, 2018
Read Mønk CD/LP/Track Review
Mønk
by Chris May
Published: September 20, 2018
Read The Music of Gary Lindsay / Are We Still Dreaming CD/LP/Track Review
The Music of Gary Lindsay / Are We Still Dreaming
by Jack Bowers
Published: September 20, 2018
Read "3" CD/LP/Track Review 3
by Jim Worsley
Published: July 21, 2018
Read "Never Bet The Devil Your Head" CD/LP/Track Review Never Bet The Devil Your Head
by Mike Jurkovic
Published: April 9, 2018
Read "Life Anthem" CD/LP/Track Review Life Anthem
by Jerome Wilson
Published: June 20, 2018
Read "There'll Be Some Changes Made" CD/LP/Track Review There'll Be Some Changes Made
by Dr. Judith Schlesinger
Published: May 17, 2018
Read "Viata" CD/LP/Track Review Viata
by Karl Ackermann
Published: June 5, 2018
Read "Double Bass" CD/LP/Track Review Double Bass
by John Eyles
Published: April 7, 2018