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Eddie Gomez: Playing Well with Others

Tom Greenland By

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Eddie Gomez & Mark Kramer
Art of the Heart
Art of Life
2005


Lenny Popkin, Eddie Gomez & Carol Tristano
New York Moment
Lifeline
2005


John Abercrombie & Eddie Gomez, with Gene Jackson
Structures
Chesky
2006




If NYC's own, bassist Eddie Gomez, got comments on his report cards, they were probably along the lines of: "Plays well with others. Ever since his ten-year tenure with pianist Bill Evans, when he walked in (and filled) the shoes of an impressive lineage of seminal bassists (notably Scott LaFaro, Chuck Israels and Gary Peacock), Gomez has proven over and again that he has 'big ears'. Three recent releases capture him in (inter)action.

Art of the Heart, a duo album with pianist Mark Kramer, is a soft-spoken and soulful set of standards, tenderly rendered, sweet without schmaltz. Kramer affords ample room for dialogue, to which Gomez responds with running commentary, blurring and blending the traditional division of labor between bassist and pianist. Gomez is particularly fiery in his 'solo' spots, tipping the time to create forward momentum, while Kramer is a paragon of tasteful touch married to heartfelt delivery.

New York Moment, with tenor saxophonist Lenny Popkin and drummer Carol Tristano, situates Gomez in another musically minimalistic setting, adding drum set swing while dropping the chordal element. Popkin's cool tonality (à la altoist Paul Desmond) and swirling surround-sound concept, along with Gomez' fluent flexibility, combine to create a sonic wash that ebbs and flows with effortless empathy.

Structures, another trio outing, with guitarist John Abercrombie and drummer Gene Jackson, is perhaps the most compelling effort of the three. Recorded on a single microphone in St. Peter's Episcopal Church, what the recording may lack in definition (as compared with the close mic'ing of Art of the Heart) is more than made up for with inspired delivery. Abercrombie, for one, seems deeply immersed in an 'altar'-ed state, playing with inspired abandon, while Gomez is the consummate aural alchemist.

In all of these projects Gomez embodies the legacy of Bill Evans' trios, a vision of collaboration and egalitarianism, where the whole becomes greater than the sum of the parts. And that's always a plus (A+).


Tracks & Personnel

Art of the Heart

Tracks: Wonderful, Wonderful; Moment to Moment; Chances Are; Call Me Irresponsible; Hello Young Lovers; They Say It's Wonderful; Smile; Easy to Love; Small World; It's Not for Me to Say; If I Loved You; I'll be Seeing You.

Personnel: Eddie Gomez: acoustic bass; Mark Kramer: piano.

New York Moment

Tracks: New York Moment; Mystery; You Don't Know What Love Is; Origin; Entracte; Like a Dream; Conundrum; Body & Soul; Another Time.

Personnel: Lenny Popkin: tenor saxophone; Eddie Gomez: bass; Carol Tristano: drums.

Structures

Tracks: Jazz Folk; The Touch of Your Lips; Moon & Sand; Walter Pigeon; Everything I Love; Embraceable You; For Three; Turn Out the Stars; Missing You; How Deep is the Ocean.

Personnel: John Abercrombie: guitar; Eddie Gomez: bass; Gene Jackson: drums.

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