Renowned bassist David C. Gross has made a mark as a writer for “Bass Frontiers” magazine, produced instructional videos and has also written seven books. Otherwise, Gross has been an active performer in the New York area for many years and here exhibits his writing and arranging skills on his first solo effort titled, Theorcolous I.
Along with an estimable cast including saxophonist Daniel Carter, drummer Warren Benbow, woodwind specialist Patience Higgins and several others Gross prominently displays his extraordinary skills as a bassist but also shines as a crafty tunesmith. The proceedings get off to a fiery start with Warren Benbow’s explosive polyrhythmic drum solo on the composition, “Billy the Spider”. Here, the flowing horn arrangement along with percussionist Num Amun-tehu’s warm marimbas ride atop Gross’ firm and rock solid walking electric bass lines. “Chela” features a sonorously pleasant melody along with ethnocentric style percussion and up-front backbeats, which emits a sense of being in the tropics; although, the hybrid funk-jazz character of this piece evades any rigid formula or definable categorization. On “The Law Of One” we are treated to straight four meter and bold, brash horns amid swirling marimbas. Mr. Gross pays a bit of homage to the legendary master of the fuzz bass, Hugh Hopper on “Seitan Takes A Solo”. Here, Gross turns the intensity level up a few notches with commanding electric fuzz bass soloing while providing impact and contrast with the tight funk and thoroughly hip horn arrangement. Gross’ thumping yet altogether disciplined approach to the bass is also evident on “Institutions” as he establishes the motif and sets the pace for the ensemble by stating the themes which serves as a framework for the ensuing arrangement. On this track, one of the trumpeters (the soloists are unidentified) drives the forward motion of the arrangement as the horns coalesce with the shifting pulse while the closer, “Soul Of Man” boasts weaving and colorful horns over Gross and Benbow’s well pronounced yet non-intrusive rhythmic structures.
Theorcolous I is an entertaining and somewhat beaming first effort from David C. Gross who has crafted a strong set of stylish jazz-funk compositions and arrangements enhanced by an ensemble of primarily New York Downtown scene musicians who skillfully engage the – group approach. Besides, his technical prowess Gross also fuses linear bass lines with thematic statements that at times, guide the band through twists and turns as the bassist pursues a vision which is a bit beyond your standard - tightly coordinated funk-jazz formulaic approach. This is a recording that crosses a few genres and generates a good deal of interest as we look forward to Mr. Gross’ next project, which hopefully will not be too far off in the distant future! * * * *
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