Given that jazz bass players are typically cast as part of the rhythm support team, only a handful of them have become leaders in their own right. Taking the lead from such jazz masters as Charles Mingus, Ray Brown, Ron Carter and Dave Holland who pioneered the advance of the bass, the next generation of acoustic and electric bassists have been crafting musical statements in leadership roles.
At the top of that class is acoustic and electric bassist John Patitucci, who delivers his latest Concord Jazz project, Remembrance, a remarkable outing of 11 straight-ahead-to-funky-to-classical-tinged originals featuring an astounding trio comprising saxophone maestro Joe Lovano and brilliant drummer Brian Blade. Almost every tune is dedicated to a musician, hence the title. The CD is the bassist's 13th as a leader and seventh for Concord, with which he made his debut in 1997 with One More Angel. Guests include his wife Sachi Patitucci on cello and percussionist Rogerio Boccato, who delivers simpatico rhythms with Blade on four tracks that Patitucci says makes them sound "like one giant organism."
"It's not an easy thing for a bass player to be able to lead his own group and record today," says Patitucci, who, in addition to being a leader, is a longstanding member of saxophonist Wayne Shorter's quartet (along with Blade) as well as a regular participant in trios led by drummers Roy Haynes and Jack DeJohnette. He adds, "Our musical elders were the trailblazers who forged a path for us to follow."
As for the trio that he has assembled, Patitucci says that this particular group is a dream band for him, which makes Remembrance a special recording. "I've been waiting for years to make a trio record like this," he says. "Brian is a consummate artist whose contributions go way beyond the drums. He's powerful, and he has great interpretive skills, incredible ears and a breadth of musicality. Joe improvises at such a high level, and he brings a great sound, phrasing and overall feeling to everything he plays on."
Both players, says Patitucci, "swing hard and can change directions on a dime. I chose guys that I felt I could be vulnerable enough with to take lots of chances in the music." Lovano and Blade also recorded with Patitucci on his 2001 Communion Concord Jazz album, but in a quartet setting with pianist Brad Mehldau. During one rehearsal that Mehldau had to miss, Patitucci, Lovano and Blade set up shop with revelatory results. "We freaked out," Patitucci says. "We looked at each other and said that we should do a record like this someday. Ever since that time eight years ago, this album has been brewing within me."
With a minimum of overdubs, Remembrance was recorded live in the studio in the same room, with none of the players listening through headphones. "I wanted it to sound organic and let the bass bleed into other things Joe and Brian were doing," Patitucci says. "Plus, my bass sound was able to be a little bigger, broader and warmer versus