Bassist Eddie Gomez has never received the attention he deserves as a leader. While that's largely due to the fact that he spends so much time making other people sound better, the reason isn't important; it's an injustice, regardless of the cause. His pliant and flexible bass has been the binding agent and rhythmic-melodic-harmonic go-between responsible for bolstering the work of pianists like Bill Evans, Chick Corea and Hank Jones, drummers like Jack DeJohnette and Steve Gadd, and countless others on every instrument imaginable, but he's also put out his fair share of leader dates that highlight his artistry in more direct fashion.
Gomez has been in the spotlight for well over four decades now, but rarely for his own records; thankfully that seems to be changing. Gomez and pianist Carlos Franzetti scored a Latin Grammy for their Duets (Acqua, 2008), and now, with the release of Per Sempre, Gomez should be getting his due. This eight track program was recorded while Gomez was touring in Italy in the winter of 2009, and the warm sounds on display run counter to the season of the session.
The combination of Matt Marvuglio's flute and Marco Pignataro's saxophone is responsible for the glowing quality in the melodic design of this work, but the rhythm section is responsible for molding the shape of each piece. Gomez, pianist Teo Ciavarella and drummer Massimo Manzi make the music expand and contract in Evans-esque fashion, as they draw concentric circles around one another that come into singular focus or spread out as needed. Nothing simply arrives; it evolves in turns.
Gomez-as-melodist is a sound to behold. His arco work is elegant, yet mournful, and his pizzicato work stretches the very fabric of sound. While his soloing-with-vocalizingà la Keith Jarrettmay not be everybody's cup of tea, it serves as a window into his well-focused mind's eye.
A consistent vibe is felt throughout the majority of the album, but each song contains different treasures. "Arianna" is notable for the leader's soloing, "Why Cry?" contains a joyously flighty flute spot, "Forever" features some suave, out-front tenor work from Pignataro and "Homesick" is a stylistic detour, with Spanish seasonings and Argentine allusions. Per Sempre is a pure expression of organic musical dialogue that may go a long way in helping to put Gomez on a pedestal...and he deserves nothing less.
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