CD: Mark Wade, Moving Day

A couple of years ago, New York bass man Mark Wade joined the ranks of ‘about-timers’; my category for established musicians, making their first recording as leader surprisingly late in their career. Event Horizon tweaked my ears as I reported at the time, and a few others’ by look of things. Mark made the top ten of Downbeat’s  readers’ poll that year.  Now here comes Moving Day, like Event Horizon, released in Europe on Berlin based Edition46. On the strength of this one, it sounds like he’s gone from ‘about timer’ to ‘ain’t no stopping him now’.  It’s the same line-up as the debut recording, with Tim Harrison on piano and Scott Neumann on drums. An acoustic trio then, with Wade’s compositions, a couple of arrangements and their mutual empathy and wits the raw materials.

The first thing that grabs the ears is the gorgeous bass sound.  The piano announces the title track with a repeating figure, and the bass sings the melody before the piano picks it up. Its a lyrical, evenly flowing piece with a direct and affecting theme, and fluid singing soloing from Harrison and the leader that sets the scene.  The album has direct, melodic and grooving pieces alongside more impressionistic and evocative episodes, as well as digging into the jazz canon.  Midnight In The Cathedral moves through eerie cymbal work, rolling rubato interplay between the whole band, a racing pulse and a meditative coda. The Bells is similarly episodic, a spooky tone poem hinting at dissonant chimes morphing into a pulsating jazz waltz, punctuated by a probing, exploratory bass solo.  There’s variety as well.  Another Night In Tunisia is a wonky take on the Gillespie classic The bridge of Autumn Leaves gets a sideways nudge from the rhythmic signature of Maiden Voyage and the familiar phrases get their tails tweaked by distorting harmony.  Wade’s own The Quarter is propelled by a raunchy second line groove (no doubting which quarter was in mind).  The Fading Rays of Sunlight has the band skipping away with a wistful and romantic flourish.

This is a very satisfying listen, the writing and playing making this a trio sound in the fullest sense. The piano and bass are exchanging phrases and complementing throughout and Neumann’s drums provide colour and commentary; it’s thoroughly recommended.




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