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Sketches from a Bassist's Album

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Album Review

Ari Roland is one of many talented musicians overlooked by jazz labels until the mid-'90s debut of Smalls. The bassist's brand of bop is a demanding variation on hard bop with complex twists within his themes that keeps the pressure on his top-notch quartet, which includes tenor saxophonist Chris Byars, pianist Sacha Perry, and drummer Phil Stewart. It's impossible not to dig the groove of Roland's forceful "The Lion of Yerevan," in which he showcases his dark arco basslines as well as his driving rhythm. "Swamp Thing Goes to the Indy 500" is also a wild ride as the band negotiates its many sudden turns. The standard "Thou Swell" is a bit more mainstream, though Perry's choice of chords is decidedly different, while Byars' solo evokes the spirit of Don Byas. Elmo Hope's music is all but ignored in the 21st century, but the sensational arrangement of "Mo's On" (recorded for Blue Note by the composer and issued as "Mo Is On") speeds up the tempo of the difficult overlooked treasure, featuring the leader's superb bow work, a playful call-and-response between Byars and Perry, with a fine break by Stewart. Ari Roland and his musicians are clearly deserving of wider recognition after this outstanding session.

Sketches from a Bassist's Album, Ari Roland
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  • $9.90
  • Genres: Jazz, Music
  • Released: Mar 11, 2006

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