You enter the music of Chicago bassist/composer Clark Sommers
with wary expectations: In its open-ness anything can happen. Dark perambulations pop against lighter propulsions. Dialogues take on thesis, equation and whimsy. Discourse holds its own parlance, gives definition, then allows for civil caucus. Because Ba(sh), a trio defined only by the elementary concept that 1+1+1=3, converse as one on Peninsula
. Thereby making Sommers' rather simmering, seven scrutinies welcome respites from the breaking news and insistent chatter that bombards us all from any myriad of sources at any given, riven moment.
Known primarily in these parts of the musical multi-verse as the accent and gravity behind vocalist Kurt Elling
's tours and the Grammy winning live album Dedicated To You: Kurt Elling Sings The Music Of Coltrane And Hartman
(Blue Note, 2009), Sommers' has been a hot, on demand bassist and educator in his own right for a decade and more. Ba(sh), the twenty year old chord-less amalgamation Sommers sort-of co-leads with saxophonist Geof Bradfield
, whose rough 'n' ready, down 'n' dirty elegance testifies to any of the sax giants before him, and the ripped and ropey drive of drummer Dana Hall
jam hard and fast throughout Peninsula
, the trio's hot tempered follow-up to 2013's self titled debut on Origin.
Sure, the pioneering template of piano-less undertakings has been laid down historically by the likes of Sonny Rollins
and Ornette Coleman
but Sommers, Bradfield, and Hall waste no time picking up the mantle and running with it on "High Tide," its churning, vigorous groove and refrain restless. Virtuoso interplay is a Ba(sh) hallmark and Peninsula
has absolutely stunning moments, as the improvisatory fireworks powering "Goes Around" far exceed whatever the tune's structural framework may be. Bradfield's blissful, Earth-wandering soprano leads "The Forgotten" until Hall starts bashing away bringing Bradfield's flight to a vaporous close. The illusory nature of Sommers' music is on bright display on "Hope Dance," a true lesson in listening to three men work, laugh, divine and concur.
High Tide; Morning Bell; Goes Around; The Forgotten; Maybe Never; Hope Dance; Disambigulation.