Label: Laika Records, 2018
Personnel – Martin Wind: upright bass, acoustic bass guitar; Ingrid Jensen: trumpet; Scott Robinson: saxophones, clarinet, taragota; Anat Cohen: clarinet; Gary Versace: organ, piano; Bill Cunliffe: piano; Maucha Adnet: vocals; Matt Wilson: drums; Duduka Da Fonseca: drums.
German-born, New-York based bassist Martin Wind, a regular in the bands of Matt Wilson, is also a respected bandleader whose first work was released 25 years ago.
His new album, Light Blue, was divided into two different parts/recordings, showing flexibility in the personnel. For the first five compositions, he leads a more robust quintet with Ingrid Jensen on trumpet, Scott Robinson on saxophones and clarinet, Gary Versace on piano and organ, and Matt Wilson on drums. The remaining five tunes are held by a new group with strong Brazilian accent called De Norte a Sul, featuring Bill Cunliffe on piano, Anat Cohen on clarinet, Maucha Adnet on vocals, Duduka Da Fonseca on drums, and again Scott Robinson, who works as a bridging element together with the bassist.
The six-minute kickoff, “While I’m Still Here” is a harmonic replication of “Sweet Georgia Brown”, bringing together the blues, bebop, funk, and swing with sprightliness. The soloists do their jobs with a kickass attitude, starting with a woody dissertation by the bandleader and proceeding with Robinson, Versace, and finally Wilson, whose resolute actions are surrounded by compacted horn fills.
Melody commands on “Rose”, a sober, good-natured song when compared to the sassy “Ten Minute Song”, an old bebop original that, after all, runs only for 5:41 minutes. The piece, devised with plenty of bite and carrying a joyous feel, makes us jump into the ballroom and swing. The artisans of improvisation step to the forefront one after another, with the spotlight turned to Robinson, who wields his bass saxophone with muscle while having a deluxe carpet weaved by only bass and drums under his feet. As an exception, the quintet is transformed into a sextet here with the addition of Ms. Cohen, whose sinuous lines cause the colors to saturate even more.
The band creates a vibrant rock-like density on “Power Chords”, a kaleidoscopic collage of mixed idioms and the most exciting track on the album. There’s an intriguing intro before a catchy, funky groove is installed to accommodate Versace’s inventive organ and Robinson’s forceful blows on bass sax. The rhythm section whips ahead and the trumpet of Jensen is particularly appealing here, with the tune acquiring a briefly swinging flow before reinstating that punchy rock stamina, based on roots and fifths, that leads to the final statement.
Still instrumental, “A Genius and a Saint” is a waltz suavely danced by two clarinets. It makes the bridge to the remaining four pieces sung by Adnet, whether in Portuguese or English, and propelled by the warm rhythms of Da Fonseca. The Brazilian musicians prevail on “Seven Steps to Rio”, a song that, inspired by soccer, mixes the mid-70s fusion of Wayne Shorter and the Brazilian jazz of Flora Purim.
Another two old songs were added to the lineup, “Sad Story”, a cruising ballad melodically adorned with bowed bass and clarinet, and “De Norte a Sul”, whose instrumental version has the title “The Cruise Blues”.
Mostly sailing in straight-ahead waters, Wind makes use of formulas that brought him recognition and continue to better serve his compositional efforts. On top of that, both formations responded accordingly to the way he composes and hears harmony and rhythm, making of Light Blue a satisfying stop for fans of easy-listening jazz and amicable tropical rhythms.
03 – Ten Minute Song ► 05 – Power Chords ► 07 - Seven Steps to Rio