All About Jazz

Home » Articles » CD/LP/Track Review

Dear All About Jazz Readers,

If you're familiar with All About Jazz, you know that we've dedicated over two decades to supporting jazz as an art form, and more importantly, the creative musicians who make it. Our enduring commitment has made All About Jazz one of the most culturally important websites of its kind in the world reaching hundreds of thousands of readers every month. However, to expand our offerings and develop new means to foster jazz discovery we need your help.

You can become a sustaining member for a modest $20 and in return, we'll immediately hide those pesky Google ads PLUS deliver exclusive content and provide access to future articles for a full year! This combination will not only improve your AAJ experience, it will allow us to continue to rigorously build on the great work we first started in 1995. Read on to view our project ideas...

6

Mike Downes: In the Current

Jack Bowers By

Sign in to view read count
In the Current, the fifth recording as leader by Canadian bassist Mike Downes—who doubles as composer / arranger—is the second (in a row) with an aqueous theme and the first performed by his "little big band," the Parallel Streams Ensemble. Downes' album Ripple Effect, recorded with his trio and special guest guitarist Ted Quinlan, earned a 2014 Juno Award as Canada's Best Traditional Jazz Album of the Year.

The centerpiece of Downes' latest enterprise is the In the Current Suite, which comprises the first half of the album. In it, Downes shows a keen ear for melody and phrasing, as he does elsewhere, and his charts are contemporary in the best sense of the word. While none of the tunes is memorable (you're unlikely to be humming them later), each one is well-designed and altogether charming. As a composer, Downes likes to set sail quietly and build toward stormy crescendos, a tack that well suits his versatile eleven-member ensemble, several of whose members double, triple or more. That's the way it must be, as Downes' sophisticated charts call for everything from conventional brass and rhythm to flute, clarinet, bass clarinet, F/Bb horn, descant horn and percussion. For comparison's sake only, think of Maria Schneider or her mentor, Gil Evans, to whom "Re-emerging Linear Tones"—an anagram derived from Evans' given name, Ian Ernest Gilmore Green —is dedicated.

On arrangements such as these a strong pianist / keyboardist is essential, and sure-handed Brian Dickinson proves the right man for that task, while Downes and drummer / percussionist Mark Kelso round out the group's admirable rhythm section. Quinlan is here too, as he was on Ripple Effect, and solos eloquently on the suite's final movement, "Re:currents," and the pacific ballad "Soleil Couchant." The name of the suite's second movement, the unhurried "Parallel Streams," echoes of that of the ensemble, while the fourth, "Still Waters Run Deep," has a foghorn-like opening (descant horn?) that leads to an enchanting melody and expressive tenor saxophone solo (either Shirantha Beddage or Kelly Jefferson). It isn't until the bracing finale, "Elation," that Downes loosens the reins and lets the ensemble sprint to the finish line, spurred on by Beddage's brisk baritone sax solo and emphatic statements by Kelso and trumpeter Jonathan Challoner.

From stem to stern and port to starboard, "In the Current" proves more than seaworthy, and it's smooth sailing all the way for Downes and the Parallel Streams Ensemble. Another Juno Award? It's clearly not beyond the realm of possibility.

Track Listing: In the Current Suite (In the Current / Parallel Streams / Re-emerging Linear Tones / Still Waters Run Deep / Re:currents); Ripple Effect; Smoky; Soleil Couchant; Whisper; Elation.

Personnel: Mike Downes: leader, acoustic bass; Jonathan Challoner: trumpet, flugelhorn; Colleen Allen: alto, soprano sax, flute, clarinet, bass clarinet; Kelly Jefferson: tenor, soprano sax; Shirantha Beddage: baritone, tenor, soprano sax, flute, clarinet, bass clarinet; James MacDonald: F / Bb horn, descant horn; N. Jay Burr: tuba; Kelsley Grant: trombone; Ted Quinlan: guitar; Brian Dickinson: piano, keyboard; Mark Kelso: drums, percussion.

Title: In the Current | Year Released: 2014 | Record Label: Addo Records

Tags

Related Video

comments powered by Disqus

Momentum

Momentum

Mike Downes
Root Structure

CD/LP/Track Review
Read more articles
Root Structure

Root Structure

Addo Records
2017

buy
Root Structure

Root Structure

Addo Records
2017

buy
In the Current

In the Current

Addo Records
2014

buy
Ripple Effect

Ripple Effect

Addo Records
2013

buy
Then

Then

CBC Records
2012

buy

Related Articles

Read Faroe CD/LP/Track Review
Faroe
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: August 15, 2018
Read The Darkness Of A Fairy Tale CD/LP/Track Review
The Darkness Of A Fairy Tale
by Gareth Thompson
Published: August 15, 2018
Read Stained Glass & Technicolor Grooves CD/LP/Track Review
Stained Glass & Technicolor Grooves
by Chris Mosey
Published: August 15, 2018
Read A Journey CD/LP/Track Review
A Journey
by Mark Corroto
Published: August 15, 2018
Read Decay Of The Angel CD/LP/Track Review
Decay Of The Angel
by Mark Corroto
Published: August 14, 2018
Read Encontros - Orquestra Atlantica CD/LP/Track Review
Encontros - Orquestra Atlantica
by Chris Mosey
Published: August 14, 2018
Read "Witches Stew: A Tribute to Miles Davis" CD/LP/Track Review Witches Stew: A Tribute to Miles Davis
by Doug Collette
Published: October 15, 2017
Read "In Transit" CD/LP/Track Review In Transit
by Friedrich Kunzmann
Published: December 27, 2017
Read "Rome" CD/LP/Track Review Rome
by Victor L. Schermer
Published: November 15, 2017
Read "Out of Place" CD/LP/Track Review Out of Place
by Roger Farbey
Published: September 6, 2017
Read "Myths and Morals" CD/LP/Track Review Myths and Morals
by Jakob Baekgaard
Published: June 22, 2018
Read "Love Wins" CD/LP/Track Review Love Wins
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: June 19, 2018