Bassist-led recording dates make among the most interesting and swinging music produced in jazz. Paul Chambers’ recordings for Blue Note are a great case in point. Veteran bassist Rob Thorsen extends this tradition with Evolution. Thorsen is a San Francisco native who has been playing and performing the better part of his life and has appeared with many jazz luminaries, including Mark Murphy, John Hendricks, James Moody, Charles McPherson, and Richie Cole. He is a bassist in the vein of Ray Brown, always on the beat, with the beautiful arco technique of Paul Chambers.
For Evolution, Mr. Thorsen has assembled a quartet of various musicians who elicit a variety of musical moods. The disc opens "Would You," a Thorsen original send-off which plays on "Woody’n You." Mike Wofford’s capable piano navigates the creative landscape, ensuring a steady swing. Thorsen follows that with the lilting Latin swing of "Besame Mucho," on which he bows the melody and solos. Harold Arlen’s "Let’s Fall in Love" has Harold Mason doing a Sonny Rollins tenor-Caribbean trip a la "St. Thomas." Wofford’s interlude solo is introspectively extroverted, as is the leader’s solo. Flautist Holly Hoffman takes Jobim’s "Mohave" to the bossa extreme again with Thorsen soloing effectively. Thorsen’s take on Monk’s "Evidence" is at once quirky and refined. Kamau Kenyetta plays the soprano saxophone, recalling Steve Lacy and his Monk fixation. Again Wofford’s piano is what shines, guided by Rob Thorsen’s perfect time.