While Something from Before is an affair rooted in the immediate pastZac Carson's pieces are based on snapshots of his own life from the preceding few years, and it was made just at the end of the pre-pandemic worldit is not limited to that "before" by any means. The bassist has a beautifully inclusive style which draws more on modern elements than classic. There is as much jam-band sunshine and underground rock as bouncy jazz in here, and the whole affair is really all about having fun in the now.
Of course, the fun is tempered by some thoughtful shades as well. Carson takes time to remember some absent loved ones and reflects on the world's confusingness, amidst the more jaunty numbers. Even then, the group's stimulating interplay imbues all these themes with plenty of optimism and heart. The leader stays mostly in an anchoring role, underpinning things while Julia Chen and Marco Bolfelli romp through the leads on piano and guitar, respectively, with sharpness and energy to spare.
Each piece here has a personal story and history behind it, but the listener can enjoy and feel it all without needing to know the details. The only overt moment comes in the centerpiece of "In Between," when Carson's wife Lindsey steps in to sing about the couple's past travels over some easy-going 70s-pop-tinged soul. Otherwise the emotional shades speak simply for themselves: "Same Soul" (dedicated to some departed relatives) turns Something from Before's most wistful theme into its prettiest emotional peak, while "Original B.A.M.F." pays a sunny-bopping tribute to his late mentor Leopoldo Gayten with the help of some bright trumpet from the heart of New Orleans.
Most of the recording flows more briskly than the tricky rhythmic play would suggest, from the contemporary bebop waltz of "M's Theme," to the mini- epic "March of the Fabled," with its taste of prog-tinged drama. Carson's double bass mostly serves to anchor the others as he strolls and hops, though he gets a couple of eloquent spotlights as well, particularly the last solo while the snappy funk finale brings things to a hopeful close. If the before provides this much promise, Carson's future can only hold much more to discover.
Changing Tides; New Beginnings; M's Theme; Same Soul; In Between; Fallen Stars; March of the Fabled; Original B.A.M.F.; Final Move; Five Day Crisis; Signal Light.