Bassist and composer Michael Bisio has appeared on more than one hundred recordings, including numerous appearances with Tomas Ulrich, Ivo Perelman, Joe McPhee, and a regular partnership with Matthew Shipp. More than a dozen of his albums feature the bassist as a leader or co-leader but only one, Travel Music (Self-produced, 2011) has been a solo project. More than ten years on, Bisio returns to that format with Inimitable on the South Korean label, Mung Records.
The album's title reflects Bisio's view of humankind as a collection of uniquely unparalleled beings. Intentional or not, the nine improvisations reflect the wide palette from which Bisio works. The fifteen-minute opener, "Quintessence," eloquently dances across a soundscape that could reflect the artist's association with the Pacific Northwest Ballet Orchestra. The bowed bass on "New One" has a melancholy abstraction to it, leaving one unprepared for the direction it may take.
The quiet plucking of "Henry's Theme" is as agile as it is meditative, setting up the spontaneously fabricated and ritualistic "Small Things Interrupted." The piece moves in and out of diverse cultural influences without being anchored to any one inspiration. The back-to-back "Renew One" and "Wise One" are contemplative and engaging; perfect foils for the brief, raucous "Hear Now." "Before Dawn Rising," presumably for Bisio's Producer and wife, leads into the closer, "I Fall in Love Too Easily" the only cover on Inimitable. The bassist gives the standard a spare and intriguing reading.
Bisio's playing exemplifies the physical and sensory aspects of the bass; it infiltrates the listener beyond the ears. The artist is a working musician who digs down deep to create an air of generous harmonics and a profoundly earthy timbre that compares to Charlie Haden's freest playing. What we have heard from Bisio in recent years is the emergence of a powerful composer and leader.
Quintessence; New One; Henry's Theme; Small Things Interrupted; Renew One; Wise One; Hear Now; Before Dawn Rising; I Fall in Love Too Easily.