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John Patitucci: Brooklyn

Dan Bilawsky By

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Brooklyn is where it all started for John Patitucci. While the renowned bassist may have initially made his mark in sunny California, working with jazz luminaries and establishing himself as a strong presence in the studio scene in the '80s, his New York childhood helped to get him there. It's that starting point that serves as the inspiration for this project, which is something of a companion piece to Back In Brooklyn—a documentary on Patitucci's life expected to arrive in late 2015.

For this album, Patitucci returned to the scene(s) of his youth, literally and figuratively. He works exclusively with electric bass here, since that was the instrument for Patitucci when he started; the project was recorded at The Bunker, a studio located in Brooklyn; and it features a number of songs—Thelonious Monk's "Trinkle Tinkle" and "Ugly Beauty," Wes Montgomery's "The Thumb"—that served to introduce him to jazz. In saluting those figures, Patitucci also nods to his grandfather, the man who brought home a box of discarded jazz records and, in doing so, opened up a new world for the bass-star-to-be. But that's just how Patitucci looks to the past. The album itself exists firmly in the present, as Patitucci teams up with super drummer Brian Blade, his rhythm teammate in the Wayne Shorter Quartet, and a pair of wholly capable jazz guitar modernists—Adam Rogers and Steve Cardenas. With a band like that, it's clear that this isn't going to be some dated walk down memory lane.

Brooklyn begins with IN9-1881/The Search," a prismatic treasure painted with a pan-African palette of sounds. African music remains the focus on the follow-up track—Malian vocalist Oumou Sangare's "Dugu Kamalemba"—but Patitucci and company switch gears for the backbeat-driven, funky-and-soulful "Band Of Brothers." From there, it's off to Monk's world with "Trinkle Tinkle," a number that finds Patitucci and Blade trading solos, and "Ugly Beauty," a spare and transfixing performance with few traces of the composer's idiosyncrasies.

As the album reaches its midpoint, bluesy strains play a bigger part in the production. "JLR," a Blade-Patitucci duo take on "The Thumb," and a deeply felt "Go Down Moses" all speak to this crew's ability to get deep inside the blues, be it in form, language, or spirit. And then there are numbers that go in other directions: "Do You?" is a scintillating piece that swings, "Bells Of Coutance" is an ethereal episode, and "Tesori" is a touching solo bass work that Patitucci wrote for his wife and children.

While no single album can capture every angle of Patitucci's playing, Brooklyn manages to shine a light on his multifaceted electric bass work better than anything else in his leader discography. This music is electric in more ways than one.

Track Listing: IN9-1881/The Search; Dugu Kamalemba; Band Of Borthers; Trinkle Tinkle; Ugly Beauty; JLR; Do You?; Bells Of Coutance; The Thumb; Go Down Moses; Tesori.

Personnel: John Patitucci: electric bass; Adam Rogers: electric guitar; Steve Cardenas: electric guitar; Brian Blade: drums.

Title: Brooklyn | Year Released: 2015 | Record Label: Three Faces Records

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