There is a cartoon circulating the internet that depicts a criminal suspect being interrogated by police. Also in the room is a jazz bassist. The detective tells his partner, "he'll talk, everyone talks during the bass solo." That may be true, unless the bassist is Michael Bisio. Whether performing with pianist Matthew Shipp or saxophonist Ivo Perelman, Bisio's presence is always prominent and unmistakable. His collaborations always tend to be more than accompaniment. He is the constant yin to another musician's yang.
When he steps out, to lead his own band, that yin intensifies, as it does on this Accortet recording. The unique nature of this disc, is Bisio's choice of expressive players. Obviously, the addition of Art Bailey's accordion jumps up first, but there is also percussionist Michael Wimberly's deft touch and perhaps the most expressive cornetist working today, Kirk Knuffke.
The disc opens with the gliding waltz of "AM," that twists and snakes with a passionately satisfying celebratory sound. Bisio underpins the music here and throughout with a rocksteady hand, one that he has lent to performances and recordings with Charles Gayle, Joe McPhee, and Connie Crothers. "Henry's Theme" explores a more open-ended line with Bisio's bowed bass that gives way to an inspired bass solo. Bisio has always preferred an ordered sound. His solo here and on "I Want To Do To You What Spring Does To Cherry Trees" is demonstratively crisp and warm. The latter piece opens into a luscious ballad with Knuffke's cornet singing what feels like a familiar song. This disc or better yet, we should say album of songs (penned by Bisio), seems to always feel familiar. He drops bits and pieces of "A Love Supreme" bass lines into "Times That Bind," urging his players to consider the motivations for music making.
"Sun Mystery Ra History" draws on the ceremonial nature of Herman Sonny Blount's music with Bailey mimicking Sun Ra's keyboard dance. The two "Living Large" tracks feature duets between, (A&D) accordion and drums and (C&B) cornet and bass. Each displays the leader's preference for a cooperative sound. And each exhibits the musicality of the players; Wimberly's drums turn out melodies and Bisio's bass sings. The unique sound of the accordion is more than a hook, it interlocks naturally and in a casual manner with the bassist's concept to make this a complete statement.
AM; Henry's Theme; Giant Chase; Times That Bond; I Want To Do To You What Spring Does To Cherry Trees; Livin' Large; (A&D); Charles Too!; Sun Mystery Ra History; Livin' Large (C&B).
Kirk Knuffke: cornet; Art Bailey: accordion; Michael Bisio: bass; Michael Wimberly: drums.