Michael Mason and the Exploratory Ensemble: Signal

Jerry D'Souza By

Sign in to view read count
Michael Mason and the Exploratory Ensemble: Signal Surprises are welcome, if they are pleasant ones. So is Michael Mason. This is his fifth release, and it is better late than never to make his acquaintance...

Mason, who wrote all the tunes except one, shows a fair sense for what makes the pulse tick. His main approach is to write sketches rather than whole pieces, but he gives the musicians room to evolve and the direction in which to mould them. He keeps “Sir James” all to himself, taking the gentleman (whose last name happens to be Newton) through a gentle tide of shifting timbre, a flutter of arpeggios and lyrical lines. He casts the rhythm base for “The Pulse of Life’s Heart,” his other solo piece, with the djembe and bodhran, filling it with shakers and other percussion for a sinuous groove as his flute dances on top. On the rest of the tracks he uses a quintet on which Steve Berry and Aras Biskis switch places.

Mason sets a whirlwind tempo on “Turbulence” and Berry lays crisp evolutions of the theme, the two conversing animatedly driven by the stirring tempo of Avreeayl Ra on drums. There is a more luminous drive from Kirk Brown on piano, all the forces then coming together in a torrid clasp. “The Spirit” moves Mason in a different way. On this mid-tempo lope, the spark is ignited first by Mason whose playing is open and clean, the improvisations leading to interesting pathways, and then by Brown, whose sense of melody and harmony add an inspired touch.

Visit Southport Records on the web.

Track Listing: Luminary; Mahjong; Signal; Amend; For Once; Sir James; Turbulence; The Spirit; The Pulse of Life

Personnel: Michael Mason

Year Released: 2004 | Record Label: Southport Records | Style: Straight-ahead/Mainstream

comments powered by Disqus


More Articles

Read This Is Beautiful Because We Are Beautiful People CD/LP/Track Review This Is Beautiful Because We Are Beautiful People
by Matthew Aquiline
Published: May 29, 2017
Read Nigerian Spirit CD/LP/Track Review Nigerian Spirit
by James Nadal
Published: May 29, 2017
Read The Colours Suite CD/LP/Track Review The Colours Suite
by Glenn Astarita
Published: May 29, 2017
Read Les Liasons Dangereuses 1960 CD/LP/Track Review Les Liasons Dangereuses 1960
by Mark Corroto
Published: May 29, 2017
Read Chapter Five CD/LP/Track Review Chapter Five
by Jack Bowers
Published: May 28, 2017
Read The Hive CD/LP/Track Review The Hive
by Edward Blanco
Published: May 28, 2017
Read "Soundscapes" CD/LP/Track Review Soundscapes
by Jim Olin
Published: July 25, 2016
Read "Reflections" CD/LP/Track Review Reflections
by Matthew Aquiline
Published: March 11, 2017
Read "Sedimental You" CD/LP/Track Review Sedimental You
by John Sharpe
Published: March 30, 2017
Read "Signature" CD/LP/Track Review Signature
by Chris Mosey
Published: August 17, 2016
Read "Duet" CD/LP/Track Review Duet
by Karl Ackermann
Published: September 30, 2016
Read "Live in Sant'Anna Arresi 2004" CD/LP/Track Review Live in Sant'Anna Arresi 2004
by Mark Corroto
Published: December 13, 2016

Why wait?

Support All About Jazz and we'll deliver exclusive content, hide ads, hide slide-outs, and provide read access to our future articles.

Buy it!