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Euan Burton: Occurrences

Bruce Lindsay By

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Bassist/composer Euan Burton takes a prosaic approach to naming the tunes on Occurrences, but that's where such matter-of-factness ends. Burton's music—characterized by a calm, meditative, atmosphere for the most part—is melodically strong and engaging as it moves through this suite of seven tunes.

Burton, from East Kilbride in Scotland, is equally at home on bass guitar and double bass. He's worked with New York saxophonist Will Vinson and Irish guitarist Mark McKnight in their own bands, played bass for the Scottish National Jazz Orchestra and worked with folk performers such as fiddler Aly Bain. After studying at the Birmingham Conservatoire, Burton returned to his native country to become part of a talented Scottish jazz scene that's something of a hidden treasure, lacking the media profile that comes more readily to players in the London circuit. He followed his debut album, Collective (Self Produced, 2006) with the Euan Burton/Tom Gibbs Group's Forgotten Things (CDBY, 2010), featuring Ari Hoenig on drums. Occurrences further advances his reputation as both a bassist and a composer.

Burton's quartet excels at the calm, unhurried, tempos which the bassist gives to much of this album. Even when the tempo increases there is still no sense of urgency, no feeling that the pace is being rushed; the musicians shift gear effortlessly, staying relaxed and together. It helps that the drum seat is occupied by James Maddren, one of the most creative and most in demand young percussionists around. Maddren and Burton form a terrific team, the drummer's light-touch and dynamic percussion darting in and out of Burton's less demonstrative but beautifully judged bass lines.

Steve Hamilton's piano on "Three" is delicate and thoughtful, crucial to the tune's mood either in his brief solo passages or in partnership with Vinson's lyrical alto saxophone. "Three" is an object lesson in the art of controlled yet emotionally engaging musicianship; a beautiful tune, its intensity heightened by the interplay between Maddren, Vinson and Hamilton. Hamilton has a strong rhythmic sensibility, shown to great effect when he moves to Fender Rhodes for the up-tempo "Seven," which also showcases Vinson's excellent soprano saxophone playing. McKnight's playing on Occurrences is some of the finest that he has committed to record. His intonation is precise and his single note runs are fluid and smooth, with a warmth that perfectly complements Vinson's own tone, qualities epitomized in his solo on "Six."

Occurrences is described enigmatically by Burton as "based on occurrences in his own life." The titles give nothing away, but that really doesn't matter. Burton's compositions touch on universal feelings and emotions and his band crafts the music with rare delicacy and grace.

Track Listing: One; Two; Three; Four; Five; Six; Seven.

Personnel: Euan Burton: double bass; Will Vinson: alto saxophone, soprano saxophone; Mark McKnight: guitar; Steve Hamilton: piano, Rhodes; James Maddren: drums.

Title: Occurrences | Year Released: 2012 | Record Label: Whirlwind Recordings Ltd

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