Bassist and composer-arranger Sam Bevan was a mainstay of San Francisco’s Bay Area jazz scene for close to two decades before packing up and relocating to New York in 2016. Fusing familiar post-bop orthodoxy with strong grooves and no shortage of daring, Bevan’s pianoless little big band tackle a well-balanced programme of originals. The decision to return to California for this, his fourth recording as leader, is an indication of just how important he sees his longstanding collaborators in the interpretation and animation of his music. The Golden State is crucial in other respects too, and time and again its rich and diverse musical traditions imbue Bevan’s music with some distinctly West Coast auras.
Opening with a very contemporary statement, H&A rides a dark, heavy groove propelled by Bevan’s thunderous bass. As the horns circle Garland’s crushing pulse, Knudsen’s chattering alto releases pent-up tension. Old Cool tips a nod to a classic pianoless West Coast sound from another era, while the enigmatically titled Parallel Falcon providesa platform for rhythmic gameplay which is redolent of the coast’s once thriving Asian-American jazz scene. The exotic vibes of Wide and Awake could be straight out of the Tapscott songbook, and Sleepless In Suresenes evokes the soulful free-bop of Messrs Carter and Bradford. Blues For CM channels Mingus, perhaps the hardest hitting bassist-composer ever to migrate east, before the set is brought to an altogether more sedate close with the hushed balladry of Nellowees Waltz. A hugely enjoyable set full of unpredictable twists, Emergence is available from Bandcamp, CD Baby and the usual streaming services.
Ian Carey, Henry Hung (t); Cory Wright (ts, bcl); James Mahone (ts); Kasey Knudsen (as); Patrick Cress (bar, bcl); Donna Vincent (f); Sam Bevan (b); Eric Garland (d); Jackie Rago (pc) on 3. No date, Oakland, CA.
H&A; Old Cool; Parallel Falcon; Epicureans; Wide And Awake; Sleepless In Suresenes; Grass; Blues For CM; Nellowees Waltz (54.55)