323

Michael Bates: Clockwise

Troy Collins By

Sign in to view read count
Michael Bates: Clockwise Clockwise is the third offering from Canadian-born bassist Michael Bates' ensemble Outside Sources. Charting impressive compositional growth since his previous album, A Fine Balance (Between the Lines, 2004), this session finds the Brooklyn-based composer leading his quartet through a dynamically varied program. Fueled by youthful verve, he deftly combines adventurous post-bop structures with the advanced compositional strategies of classical chamber music.

Bates' current touring quartet features longstanding partner Canadian saxophonist Quinsin Nachoff and ubiquitous Downtown musicians Russ Johnson (trumpet) and Jeff Davis (drums). With studied virtuosity, sensitive listening skills and intuitive interplay, they seamlessly blur the line between the written and improvised as they navigate Bates' thorny contrapuntal themes, staggered metric tempos and endlessly shifting rhythms.

The premier of a distinctive new voice, Bates has shed the influence of trumpeter Dave Douglas, whose shadow weighed heavily over his previous work. Driven by the same communal DIY aesthetic that informed his punk rock roots, Bates' writing employs the angular melodic ingenuity of his peers with an abiding interest in the emotional drama and harmonic complexity of the Russian school of classical composition.

"Great Exhibition" and "Fellini" demonstrate Bates' flair for opulent harmonies, cinematic atmospheres and elaborate counterpoint. The former blends neo-classical overtones with mercurial rhythmic accents while the later paints a carnivalesque portrait of the revered Italian director that episodically transforms from light-hearted to ominous.

Bolstering punchy hard bop with unfettered vigor, "Damasa" and "Machinery" veer from Ornettish elasticity to Milesian precision. The tenacious front line of Nachoff and Johnson provide cathartic intensity as they careen through Bates' labyrinthine compositions fueled by the leader's magnanimous contributions and Jeff Davis' roiling accents.

Bates' love of modernist Eastern European composers like Shostakovich, Prokofiev and Bartok reveals itself on "Machinery" and "Fellini," which incorporate fragments of Russian tinged folk melodies, while "Great Exhibition" invokes the ebullience of Stravinsky and the mini-trumpet concerto "Marching" employs a rousing, symphonic theme. Appropriately titled, "The Russian School" moves from petulant indignation to heartbreaking solemnity and back again; Nachoff's volatile tenor protests vehemently while Johnson's dulcet trumpet offers rays of hope.

Demonstrating compositional maturity and harmonic confidence, Bates also offers a selection of tunes that eschew high-minded complexity in favor of emotionally direct simplicity. "Rideau Medals" and "Lighthousekeeping" offer fleeting euphony that drifts from serene melancholy to bittersweet optimism. Similarly unadorned but far more assertive, the bluesy noir groove of "Bloodletting" inspires a gruff tenor testimonial from Nachoff accompanied by Johnson's expressively vocalized interjections.

Clockwise is a breakthrough album, revealing a wellspring of possibilities from an up and coming composer. A stalwart instrumentalist with sublime writing skills, Michael Bates is an artist to watch.


Track Listing: Great Exhibition; Damasa; Rideau Medals; Machinery; Fellini; Lighthousekeeping; Marching; Bloodletting; The Russian School.

Personnel: Michael Bates: double bass; Russ Johnson: trumpet; Quinsin Nachoff: saxophone, clarinet; Jeff Davis: drums.

Title: Clockwise | Year Released: 2008 | Record Label: Greenleaf Music


Tags

comments powered by Disqus

More Articles

Read The Better Angels of Our Nature CD/LP/Track Review The Better Angels of Our Nature
by Karl Ackermann
Published: July 20, 2017
Read What Brought You Here? CD/LP/Track Review What Brought You Here?
by Troy Dostert
Published: July 20, 2017
Read My Head Is Listening CD/LP/Track Review My Head Is Listening
by John Sharpe
Published: July 20, 2017
Read Passin' Thru CD/LP/Track Review Passin' Thru
by Ian Patterson
Published: July 20, 2017
Read Ugly Beauty CD/LP/Track Review Ugly Beauty
by Nick Davies
Published: July 20, 2017
Read Relaxin’ With the Miles Davis Quintet CD/LP/Track Review Relaxin’ With the Miles Davis Quintet
by C. Michael Bailey
Published: July 19, 2017
Read "Evergreen (Canceled World)" CD/LP/Track Review Evergreen (Canceled World)
by Dave Wayne
Published: January 4, 2017
Read "Simplicity" CD/LP/Track Review Simplicity
by Chris Mosey
Published: August 6, 2016
Read "Verde" CD/LP/Track Review Verde
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: August 12, 2016
Read "Ephimeral" CD/LP/Track Review Ephimeral
by Glenn Astarita
Published: April 28, 2017
Read "Lionsong" CD/LP/Track Review Lionsong
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: December 21, 2016
Read "Rumbler" CD/LP/Track Review Rumbler
by Paul Rauch
Published: January 2, 2017

Support All About Jazz: MAKE A PURCHASE  

Support our sponsor

Upgrade Today!

Musician? Boost your visibility at All About Jazz and drive traffic to your website with our Premium Profile service.

Donate!