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Eddie Gomez: Duo & Trio

Ken Dryden By

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Jeremy Steig & Eddie Gomez
Outlaws
Enja
2009


Great Jazz Trio
Chapter II
Test of Time
2009

Eddie Gomez has long been one of the most valuable bassists in jazz, especially after his 11-year stint in the Bill Evans Trio. After leaving Evans in 1975, he was quite active on record dates, including his unusual meeting with flutist Jeremy Steig and his regular work on several albums by Hank Jones' Great Jazz Trio.

Steig also worked with Evans, on the album What's New?. Hearing a flute and bass together unaccompanied is an intriguing idea, something that can only work when two masters are involved, as both men are. Recorded at a live studio performance in 1976, this 24-bit remastered reissue of Outlaws alters the original order of the program and has different cover art, including a hilarious sketch by Steig of both artists posing with their instruments as weapons.

The music mostly consists of originals, much of it sounding improvised on the spot, though there are no liner notes to explain whether that is the case. The title track is a rambling opener, with Gomez providing plenty of stimulus underneath Steig's constantly searching solo. "Autumn Comes, Autumn Leaves" is inspired in part by the standard, introduced by Gomez' inventive solo variation on the familiar theme; Steig joins him about a third of the way as the root source becomes readily recognizable. Not content simply to walk the bass beneath Steig's breathy, spirited lead, Gomez provides a virtual master class with his percolating accompaniment. Gomez plays exclusively arco in his solo feature, the moody "Arioso," while Steig plays alone in his elegant "Nightmare". The finale is an extended workout of "Nardis," handicapped only by Gomez' use of digital delay in its introduction; otherwise, it is a masterpiece, possibly the best piano-less version ever recorded and rivaling the energy of Evans' many readings.

The Great Jazz Trio was conceived by drummer Tony Williams, though pianist Hank Jones proved to be its sole lasting member, with a procession of bassists and drummers joining him during its existence from 1975 to the early '80s; it was revived for a time in the early 21st century with recordings made for the Japanese jazz market. Gomez appears on several Great Jazz Trio records, including Chapter II, a 1980 studio date with drummer Al Foster.

This session is a bit uneven, though not due to Gomez. Jones' strong originals are among the highlights, including the energetic Latin-flavored "Duplex" (with Gomez softly singing along during his solo), the lovely, waltzing ballad "Sublime" and the jaunty blues "Peedlum". Also noteworthy is the intricate rendition of "Ornithology" with inspiring leads by pianist and bassist. Jones switches to electric piano for the introduction to Gomez' "Light Listened"; it seems a bit incongruous with the arco acoustic bass but improves dramatically when Jones returns to acoustic piano, the mood rapidly shifting from dreamy to driving blues. But there's no saving Foster's dull samba "Just Before Dawn" which is badly dated due to the continuous presence of the Fender Rhodes.


Tracks and Personnel

Outlaws

Tracks: Outlaws; Autumn Comes, Autumn Leaves; Arioso; Nightmare; Nardis.

Personnel: Jeremy Steig: flute; Eddie Gomez: bass.

Chapter II

Tracks: Duplex; Sublime; Ornithology; Stella By Starlight; Light Listen; All In Love Is Fair; Peedlum; Just Before Dawn.

Personnel: Hank Jones: piano, Fender Rhodes; Eddie Gomez: bass; Al Foster: drums.

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