So where were they all last night? You've heard of poetry in motion? That's Gerry Hemingway. Except for Max Roach, I can't think of another drummer/percussionist who knows every inch of his trap drums better than Hemingway, and his mastery of it is thrilling to watch. Mark Helias also proves that jazz playing is one of the greatest of spectator sports. Every spare note of his solos counts for a lot, and he gives full due to melody.
His stage presence is totally assured; a solid figure with shaved head, he's like Yul Brynner turned bassist. But more to the point, he knows his bandmates' technique almost better than his own. Ray Anderson has become a favorite of DJF regulars over time, and there was a lot of talk in the audience about his previous appearances with the Pocket Brass Band, SlideRide, etc. It seemed too as if nearly every extroverted trombonist in Central Vermont turned out for the show. What was absent was Ray Anderson as the consummate vaudeville entertainer of yore.
(Some time back he spoke of a need to stop singing, and it looks like he has.) Instead, he was everything a slide trombone master should be, playing with grace and feeling, demonstrating the full range of his demanding instrument. This group can spend extended time with textural and timbral explorations, blowing tones and sketching sound patterns, then swing and sing like crazy. They like to fool us; we don't know where we're going but it's a good trip. It's impossible to get bored, and it's hard to avoid being caught up in the fun. So congratulations to the Festival Board for getting them here. The Line Up BassDrumBone | Clean Feed Records (2006) By Troy Collins Troy Collins View Profile | Contact Me Senior Contributor Joined AAJ in 2006 Troy has also written for Cadence, Bagatellen, One Final Note and Junkmedia. More about Troy. [Post Comment] Comments [Print It!] [Email It!] [Subscribe!] 2007 marks the thirty-year anniversary of BassDrumBone.
Trombonist Ray Anderson, bassist Mark Helias and drummer Gerry Hemingway have been playing in this configuration on and off for almost three decades. They continue to convey enthusiasm for this project with palpable joy. The Line Up is their eighth official album and quite possibly their most enjoyable effort to date. Each member of the trio contributes three compositions. Despite the stylistic variety, which drifts from tender ballads, expressive blues, rousing second-line struts and greasy funk grooves to atmospheric explorations, these pieces exude a cohesiveness born of maturity and long-term camaraderie. There is no de facto leader in BassDrumBone, a trio of equals.
Anderson's trombone initially appears to be the focus, but he just as often plays a subdued support role for Helias to take the lead, or lays out to allow Hemingway ample space to accentuate the harmonic implications of the tune. All three members are responsible for equal parts melody and rhythm, and in a sense their roles are interchangeable. Ray Anderson has long been one of the most exciting trombonists in new music; his bright, buoyant tone and humorous phrasing emanates optimism. Even in the throes of somber meditation, there is an undeniable underlying sense of hope in his tonality. Equally capable of avant gutbucket squealing, rip-snorting tailgating, mellifluous delicacy and impressive chromatic runs, his talents are vast. Drummer Gerry Hemingway is a solid tunesmith.
He shares a talent for sing-song melodies with his trio mates that engenders this session with an air of sanguinity. This translates to his delightfully melodic percussive approach. His youthful studies of African music and their reliance on tuned instruments continue to resonate in his conception. If Anderson is a rhythmic melodist and Hemmingway a harmonically astute percussionist, then it is left to Mark Helias to fill in the space between. Whether plucking out deep, sinuous bass lines or bowing resounding arco glisses, his contributions are the fulcrum on which the trio operates. Like a well-oiled machine, BassDrumBone's interplay is piston-perfect.
Modulating their approach within each tune, the players vary tempo, rhythm, tonality and structure, but with a casual sensibility that can only come from the sort of experienced rapport veterans enjoy. Thirty years and still going strong, this trio has grown together into something rare, a longstanding group of players who share common histories and aesthetic outlooks. The Line Up is a beautiful, vivacious album and a testament to their creative longevity. Track listing: Insistent; Rainbow; The Line Up; Sisyphus Effect; And Then Some; A Cuppa; 1,2,3; On Solid Ground; Rallier. Personnel: Ray Anderson: trombone; Mark Helias: bass; Gerry Hemingway: drums. Published: December 19, 2006 Ray Anderson/Mark Helias/Gerry Hemingway BassDrumBone (Hence the Reason), By Chuck Berg BassDrumBone is the synergetic threesome of bassist Mark Helias, drummer Gerry Hemingway and trombonist Ray Anderson. Three inspired savants, the trio turns the inside out, and the outside in.
One might call the energized results "postmodern" in that what typically unfolds is a stylistic pastiche embracing everything from New Orleans traditional to the Harmolodics of Ornette Coleman. As to the former, check out "Hence the Real Reason," where at moments Anderson's slippery slides and Hemingway's street beat abstractions evoke a mind-bending "X Files" Crescent City spatio-temporal warp. As for the latter, there's "For Don C" in which the trio's open-ended strolling recalls the ramblin' of pocket-trumpeter Cherry. Equally impressive is "Fictionary," a stop-start, rubato-esque drama constructed from carefully modulated group dynamics and Anderson's bravura intervallic leaps. What's amazing is how warm and appealing and yet excitingly odd these tracks are.
Like sound-seekers Ornette Coleman and Bill Frisell, BassDrumBone while estranging the familiar, also accentuates the positive. Read more on Last.fm. User-contributed text is available under the Creative Commons By-SA License; additional terms may apply..
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