4

James Cammack: Both Sides Of The Coin: Part 1

Ian Patterson By

Sign in to view read count
James Cammack: Both Sides Of The Coin: Part 1 Though James Cammack began on electric bass in the mid-1970s, he's best known as the double-bassist for legendary pianist Ahmad Jamal, a role that kept him on his toes for a remarkable 29 years. Cammack has graced many of Jamal's best latter-day recordings, but it's really live, locking horns in an improvisational cauldron with Jamal and drummers of the caliber of Idris Muhammad and Herlin Riley, that Cammack's own talent as an improviser and accompanist are best seen. Cammack reverts to the electric bass for his debut as leader, and presents originals that strike an impressive balance between compositional depth, melodic appeal and improvisational swagger.

Besides bass, Cammack plays keys/synthesizers, and his imaginative programming paints a wide range of tones and colors. On the lively "Where You Going," a steel drum motif pulses throughout while Cammack's layered bass lines provide rhythmic anchor and melodic lead. Drummer Kim Plainfield's polyrhythmic bustle and guitarist Robert Baglione's fluid jazz-rock lines bring an urbane edge to a very contemporary sounding composition that evokes the bop-centric excursions of guitarist/composer Frank Zappa. One Jamal trait that characterizes Cammack's music is a sense of continual motivic development; melodic motifs act as starting points for most of these compositions—often serving too as rhythmic/melodic mantras—on tunes that are in a constant state of becoming.

Cammack takes care of all the business on "How Long...How Long...," a basic rhythm track and light, washing synthesizer providing the backdrop for the bassist's lyrical playing. "Nomad" is another subtle vehicle for Cammack's lyricism—seen as much in his songwriting as in his soloing—with pianist Alan Eicher and Baglione, on acoustic guitar, significantly coloring this simple but pretty tune. Cammack's natural melodic flair, prodigious technique and adherence to music over exhibitionism place him squarely alongside modern masters of electric bass such as Jimmy Haslip and Matthew Garrison.

"And Then" is a steadily grooving number driven by drummer Steve Haas. Cammack's melodic hooks and contours seduce from the get-go and never relinquish their hold. Guitarist Norman Johnson and tenor saxophonist Ken Gioufree both carve impressive solos which add textural contrast, though the final word belongs to Cammack who weaves a wonderful solo that ripples and purrs like a bubbling brook. Cammack's deft keyboard work defines these compositions almost as much as his bass, inducing the tone of a vibraphone on the sophisticated pop that's "New and Different View" and a delightful, flute-like vibrato on "Life Not Easy."

The "Rise and Fall of it All" is essentially a steady groove with a series of interconnected solos from saxophonist Paula Atherton, Baglione, and Cammack, though there's a level of sophistication in the subtle arrangement that elevates the music above much modern jazz-fusion. "Looks That Way" is an episodic number, anchored by a mantra-like keyboard/guitar-led motif. Pianist Leandro Lopez-Varady's tumbling piano lines and Carl Coan's swirling EWI provide contrasting elements in a powerful closing number, where Cammack shows his considerable chops.

This is a very impressive debut, which will hopefully pave the way for further solo statements— whether on acoustic or electric bass—from one of the most unassuming yet most talented of modern jazz bassists.


Track Listing: Where You Going; How Long…How long…; New and Different View; Nomad Intro; Nomad; And Then; Life Not Easy; The Rise and Fall of it All; Pursue to Move Forward; Looks That Way.

Personnel: James Cammack: electric bass, keys, synthesizer, programming; Kim Plainfield: drums (1, 5); Robert Baglione: electric guitar (1, 8, 10), acoustic guitar (5); Frank Bellucci: drums (3); Alan Eicher: piano (5); Steve Haas: drums (6); Norman Johnson: electric guitar (6, 9), acoustic guitar (7); Ken Gioufree: saxophone (6); Bill Pernice: keyboards, piano (7); Artie Dixon: drums (7); Neal Alexander: keyboards (8); Lionel Cordew: drums (8); Paula Atherton: saxophones (8); Clyde Davis: drums (10); Leandro Lopez-Varady: piano (10); Carl Coan: EWI (10).

Year Released: 2012 | Record Label: Self Produced


Shop

More Articles

Read Road to Forever CD/LP/Track Review Road to Forever
by Jack Bowers
Published: February 27, 2017
Read Goat Man & The House of the Dead CD/LP/Track Review Goat Man & The House of the Dead
by Dave Wayne
Published: February 27, 2017
Read Avenida Graham CD/LP/Track Review Avenida Graham
by Edward Blanco
Published: February 27, 2017
Read TAI Fest #1 (Vol.1&2) CD/LP/Track Review TAI Fest #1 (Vol.1&2)
by Nicola Negri
Published: February 27, 2017
Read Acceptance CD/LP/Track Review Acceptance
by Tyran Grillo
Published: February 26, 2017
Read The Wild CD/LP/Track Review The Wild
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: February 26, 2017
Read "The Eighth Hour Of Amduat" CD/LP/Track Review The Eighth Hour Of Amduat
by Troy Dostert
Published: January 17, 2017
Read "Light Shines In" CD/LP/Track Review Light Shines In
by Glenn Astarita
Published: December 2, 2016
Read "The Julian Hartwell Project" CD/LP/Track Review The Julian Hartwell Project
by Edward Blanco
Published: March 18, 2016
Read "Rejoice! I'm Dead!" CD/LP/Track Review Rejoice! I'm Dead!
by Glenn Astarita
Published: February 11, 2017
Read "I Go Back Home: A Story About Hoping And Dreaming" CD/LP/Track Review I Go Back Home: A Story About Hoping And Dreaming
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: September 21, 2016
Read "The Golden Measure" CD/LP/Track Review The Golden Measure
by Glenn Astarita
Published: March 25, 2016

Post a comment

comments powered by Disqus

Sponsor: Jazz Near You | GET IT  

Support our sponsor

Support All About Jazz's Future

We need your help and we have a deal. Contribute $20 and we'll hide the six Google ads that appear on every page for a full year!

Buy it!