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Dave Bass: No Boundaries

Chris M. Slawecki By

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In 2015, Dave Bass retired from the Office of the Attorney General of California after twenty years of service and returned to his first professional love—playing the piano, a career that a wrist injury forced him to abandon about thirty years ago. No Boundaries is the third release, and second for Whaling City Sound, in Bass' comeback. "My first two CDs were recorded while I was still working as a lawyer, during whatever vacation time I could amass," he explains.

Bass seems intent on proving the title of No Boundaries by opening and closing it with tunes by two of modern music's most challenging pianists. "To my mind, Lennie Tristano and Bud Powell are connected, which is why I begin and end with their compositions," the pianist explains. "Just the linear approach in the heads show how they spent a lot of time playing classical repertoire, then went their own way." The oddly shaped melody of "Lennie's Pennies," which Bass has been playing since the 1970s, illuminates the colorful rhythmic and harmonic connections between his piano, Carlos Henriquez's bass and Jerome Jennings' drums. And Bass hauls piano ass through the closing "Hallucinations" like a jackrabbit with its tail on fire, tangling and untangling complicated and crackling lines like electric lightning.

Three tracks that swap Jennings out for percussionists Carlos Caro, Mauricio Herrera and Miguel Valdes pull No Boundaries into Latin jazz, but it's no stretch. "All three are from Cuba," Bass says, "and their rhythm is so strong that you can play anything on top of them." In "Siboney" and especially "La Mulata Rumbera," Bass illustrates precisely that, driving his piano through two different active lines simultaneously, twinkling and wrinkling the upper register while his left hand stomps out rhythm with flamenco fury—simply great Latin jazz piano.

Bass just keeps pushing (stylistic) walls down: A cinematic moody brooding with saxophonist Ted Nash titled "Spy Movie End Credits" because it "just sounded that way"; channeling bop pianist Elmo Hope through the thick, knotty James Joyce nod "Agenbite of Inwit"; and a gorgeous "If I Loved You" that showcases Karrin Allyson's simply breathtaking vocal from the Rodgers/Hammerstein songbook.

Multi-instrumentalist Nash contributes saxophones, clarinets, and flutes, and co-produced No Boundaries with Bass. "I don't generally produce other people's records, but I really think that Dave is an evocative composer and I believe in his vision," suggests Nash. "I love his passion. He has the enthusiasm of a college student, plus maturity, and he's hearing very personal sounds."

Track Listing: 1. Lennie's Pennies 2. Spy Movie End Credits 3. Agenbite of Inwit 4. If I Loved You 5. La Mulata Rumbera 6. Tango Adaglo 7. Time of My Life 8. Siboney 9. Neither Have I Wings 10. Danzon #1 11. Swing Theory 12. In The Rain 13. Hallucinations

Personnel: Dave Bass - piano Ted Nash - flute, alto flute, clarinet, bass clarinet, soprano sax, alto sax, tenor sax (all tracks except 13) Karrin Allyson - vocals (tracks 4, 7) Carlos Henriquez - bass Jerome Jennings - drums (all tracks except 5, 8, 10) Carlos Caro - guiro, bongos, bell (tracks 2, 4, 5, 8, 10) Miguel Valdes - bata, conga (tracks 5, 8, 10) Mauricio Hernandez - timbales, maracas (tracks 4, 5, 8, 10)

Title: No Boundaries | Year Released: 2019 | Record Label: Whaling City Sound

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