6

Bill Stewart: Space Squid

Dan Bilawsky By

Sign in to view read count
The musicians that appear on Space Squid only played one gig together as a band before recording this music, but the connections were there prior to that performance and studio session. Drummer Bill Stewart's relationship with pianist Bill Carrothers and saxophonist Seamus Blake extends back some two decades. Both men appear on Stewart's Telepathy (Blue Note, 1997), and Stewart has appeared on a number of each of their albums. Bassist Ben Street hasn't been in Stewart's orbit as long as the others, but a strong rhythmic connection exists between the two. Their work together in guitarist John Scofield's band and on guitarist Lage Lund's Unlikely Stories (Criss Cross, 2010) bears that out. Here, these four men tackle ten Stewart originals and one standard, highlighting the leader's expansive outlook as a composer and his mastery of feel, time, and space.

The album opens on "Paris Lope," a piece inspired by a pre-gig stroll through The City Of Lights. Stewart and Street create a cantering feel befitting the title, Blake's ardent tenor solo heats up the atmosphere, and Carrothers' piano statement is a fluid and unalloyed beauty. The followup—the eerie, probing "End Of Earth"—is a complete change of direction, what with its roaming, untethered, dystopian viewpoint. Nothing that follows is nearly as bleak or free-minded. "Tincture" bounds along in upbeat fashion and contains some standout Stewart soloing that exudes brilliance and bonhomie, "Happy Walk" takes off with a slick and funky Stewart-Street groove, "Blue Sway" projects unexpected harmonies of a bluesy nature against woozy swing, and "Dancing In The Dark" ends things on a classy note.

There's a fine balance between suppleness and strength throughout Space Squid, pinpointing what makes Stewart such an in-demand drummer. It's almost hard to believe that the man who's gently supporting Blake's soprano on the gentle, dark-lined "Drop Of Dusk" is the same musician who's playing the hell out of the dastardly, piano-less title track. But focusing solely on Stewart's drumming only detracts from his masterful composing. His writing is grounded in jazz language and logic, yet it's full of little surprises and twists. His conceptualization of a group aesthetic here ultimately plays off of that idea, tapping into the known while injecting a bit of uncertainty into the mix. These four men may not have been a proper band before this date, but you'd never know it from the music.

Track Listing: Paris Lope; End Of Earth; Tincture; Septemberism; Happy Walk; Drop Of Dusk; Dead Ringer; Blue Sway; If Anyone Asks You; Space Squid; Dancing In The Dark.

Personnel: Seamus Blake: tenor saxophone, soprano saxophone; Bill Carrothers: piano; Ben Street: bass; Bill Stewart: drums.

Title: Space Squid | Year Released: 2016 | Record Label: Pirouet Records

Tags

comments powered by Disqus

Shop for Music

Start your music shopping from All About Jazz and you'll support us in the process. Learn how.

Album Reviews
Live Reviews
Album Reviews
Read more articles
Space Squid

Space Squid

Pirouet Records
2016

buy
Incandescence

Incandescence

Pirouet Records
2008

buy
Keynote Speakers

Keynote Speakers

Self Produced
2005

buy
 

Telephaty

Birdology
1997

buy
 

Telepathy

Blue Note Records
1997

buy
 

Snide Remarks

Birdology
1995

buy

Upcoming Shows

Related Articles

Read Confluence Album Reviews
Confluence
By Dan McClenaghan
July 16, 2019
Read Movimenti Album Reviews
Movimenti
By Geno Thackara
July 16, 2019
Read A New Home Album Reviews
A New Home
By Mark Corroto
July 16, 2019
Read Autocannibalism Album Reviews
Autocannibalism
By John Eyles
July 16, 2019
Read Blume Album Reviews
Blume
By Chris May
July 15, 2019
Read About The Moment Album Reviews
About The Moment
By Geno Thackara
July 15, 2019
Read Källtorp Sessions, Volume One Album Reviews
Källtorp Sessions, Volume One
By Mark Corroto
July 15, 2019