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Mike Downes: Root Structure

Dan Bilawsky By

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Bassist Mike Downes likes to explore what rests at the heart of an idea and what makes things tick. That's essentially the notion that waters the roots of Root Structure. It's a thought process that gives Downes grounding while also freeing him from the constraints of a more rigid conceptual frame.

The three numbers that open up this program couldn't be more different. First there's the gamboling "Momentum," a buoyant thriller in three with sharp-witted interplay and dynamic solo statements. Then the placid "Heart Of The Matter" and the bluesy jam rock of "Miles" follow. Each of those tracks carry and present musical merits endemic to different realms. But when taken together, they make for a broad and restless statement. Downes clearly doesn't want to stay in one place for very long.

The music that comprises the rest of the album confirms that thought. For starters there's the dangerous fusion of "Moving Mountains." That leads to the comfortable swing of "The Raven," a funky strut through the title track, the beautifully fluid and true-to-name "Flow," and the mournful "Prelude And Variations." Then it all comes to an end with a glistening "Matter Of The Heart" that's pure modern expressionism with a Brazilian undercoating.

Each member of the quartet that brings this music to life does some heavy lifting in different departments. Downes is the anchor and the chief designer, having created each track to speak on its own terms and work as a particular complement to what precedes and/or follows it; Robi Botos is the straight arrow and the texture specialist, bringing a measured voice to each song and adding coats of emotion with his keys; Larnell Lewis is the fire and the rain, bringing energy to bear in the all the right places and providing a cooling dose of perspective in quieter spaces; and Ted Quinlan's guitar is the primary voice, or should we say voices, as he has a tendency to shape shift to fit each setting. It's a team that has everything covered. Together, they carry out Downes' mission of foundational exploration while shedding light on his compositional gifts.

Track Listing: Momentum; Heart Of The Matter; Miles; Moving Mountains; The Raven; Root Structure; Flow; Pre- Prelude; Prelude And Variations; Matter Of The Heart.

Personnel: Mike Downes: bass; Ted Quinlan: guitars; Robi Botos: piano, keyboards; Larnell Lewis: drums.

Title: Root Structure | Year Released: 2017 | Record Label: Addo Records

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Momentum

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CD/LP/Track Review
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