Mark Wade “Moving Day” CD Review by Sammy Stein

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Editors notes: Voted one of the top 10 bassists of 2016 by Downbeat Magazine, bassist and composer Mark Wade releases his highly anticipated second album on 19th January 2018.

Mark Wade is a bass player whose progress has been interesting and a joy to watch. Mark’s respect for Jazz along with an understanding of musical dialogue and how different aspects affect people, means that in his music there is a humanity and attention to detail.

Moving Day is his latest release and follows the success of ‘Event Horizon’ which received very positive reviews. Mark was voted in the top 10 of Downbeat’s bass players in 2016 and since then his musical development gone on to even greater things. His approach now is more singular, more based on realism yet with still that important touch of the abstract which are a signature of many great musicians. Moving Day is not simply a follow-on from ‘Event Horizon’ but a natural development, a decisive walk along a different and less well trod path – and one which works on many levels.

‘Moving Day’ opens the CD and we are led gently from piano opening, introducing the gentle riff which continues throughout the first section and re-appears intermittently, with bass accompanying with its own line before the piece develops slowly but resolutely into a gentle, lilting number with a walking gait. The piano rises and falls, the other instruments interloping, changes of pace announced with drum rolls, returning time and again to the gentle theme. There is a bass solo from Wade which, as expected is intriguing and follows its own rhythmic flow and ebb, alongside the other instruments which form a solid backdrop before the whole trio return, led by the piano riff to the main theme which is used to allow piano and percussion to interact before the bass once again emerges in solo, now with piano emphasis in chords and the piece gentle drops the listener back to earth.

‘Wide Open’ is a delicately woven piece introducing complex and varied rhythmic changes alongside riffs which quickly become familiar, the piano leading and introducing what feel like several different themes but actually is just two, one a crazy-metred dance melody, the other a short, oft-repeated rising line. The reason and methodology for this idea becomes clear as the piece develops with each instrument picking up a section and developing it, leading to the bass solo, which is clever and flowing over some nifty percussive rhythms. The piano works the main theme back up over the bass towards the end of the solo leading to a drum-led section which is heavier and a great contrast. Piano and bass then exchange the idea before the overriding theme comes back to finish the track.

‘The Bells’ uses three themes, interwoven. One is a fragmented section of Debussy’s ‘La Mer’, one an interpretation of two different church bells chiming in different rhythms and intonations and the third based on Wade’s interpretation of French Impressionism, inspired by a trip to Nice, France. The three themes work as they weave together with some clever overlaps and emerging of the different tempos, the relatively fast and rolling seaside interpretation in contrast to the gentleness of the Debussy-inspired section. After a bass solo there is a gorgeous piano and bass part where the bass line is simply a bowing of two notes over which the piano does its own thing and soon the trio are working together as a unit. Great track.

‘Another Night in Tunisia’ is a well worked interpretation of the Gillespie standard and favourite and nothing takes away from the original composition yet there are some very Wade-esque additions (and takings away) which give it a sense of originality, particularly in the second quarter when the piano takes over with the bass providing the link to the familiar tune. The track is a re-working but one with some delicacy and evocative interpretation that maybe Mr G would approve of. Some great percussion development and rhythmic changes from the piano add intrigue and interest.

‘Something of a Romance’ is gentle, restful and uses the tempo and rhythmic changes which are fast become a trademark of Mark Wade’s compositions, in a far more restful and peace-inducing way. It is tentative in part, strong in others and a close-your-eyes-and-go-some-place-else number. The take-down to the bass solo is lovely and the bass inspires here, leading into a gentle, thoughtful piano solo under which the others support and slide. A delightful interlude.

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Kosma’s ‘ Autumn Leaves’ is treated here with originality, especially as it is melded cleverly with ‘Maiden Voyage’ by Herbie Hancock.  One of my all-time favourite pieces, I was worried whether this rendition would slot into the ‘spoiled a good standard’ or ‘made it different’ category and thankfully, blending with ‘Maiden Voyage’ not only proved to be an inspired idea but suits both numbers and puts this rendition firmly into the ‘made it different’ category. Neither number is lost but they are melded, given a twist but respected, giving this an interesting and intriguing take on both but mainly ‘Autumn Leaves’. In one part, briefly, the piano leads into ‘Autumn Leaves’, and immediately into 4 bars from ‘Maiden Voyage’. A clever working and interesting.

‘Midnight In The Cathedral’ packs many styles into one presentation package. Inspired by thoughts of how many different styles might have been played in a cathedral over the centuries, this includes some free sections, alongside nods to Baroque and ancient music, jazz and even parts of ‘Dies Irae’ the Latin mass for the dead is in there. The percussive changes here are interesting, reflecting the changing patterns of the music over time and this piece demonstrates a different side to the trio, one which hopefully will develop more, given their own time. From the percussion introduction with long, spaced beats seeming to introduce the idea of time itself to the repeated emergence of the theme to the closing symbols, this is an enjoyable, changing and intriguing track.

‘The Quarter’ has two themes. One sets the track off and is joyful, slightly comic and quirky and the other, developing later is heavier, with an edge. The track is a reflection on New Orleans with the first theme creating an interpretation of daytime with streets songs and carnival whilst the second indicates a darkening as alcohol kicks in and the night closes in, creating a darker, more mysterious atmosphere, tinged with danger and always the sense of marching.  This track is possibly the best musically on the album and is a great ear opener. Too short.

‘In the Fading Rays of Sunlight’ is aptly named because this paints a musical portrait around the title and theme. Gentle, richly textures and coloured this is a great wind down piece with which to end the album.

One of the many things I enjoy listening to Mark Wade is the generosity his compositions allow for his fellow musicians and ‘Moving Day’ is an example of this. That the musicians are exceptional is a given because they play alongside one of the key bass players of the time but they also provide their own magic and back up Mark’s playing with solid and impressive musicianship. Some trio CDs have the smack of a soloist with back up but this is definitely a trio – three musicians working together with understanding and a conversant and eloquent methodology, the eloquence made so much easier by Mark’s compositions and arrangements.  You may notice in the intro I said Mark Wade’s progress has been interesting and a joy to watch, I never used the word ‘surprise’ and that is because his playing and musicality means it is not surprise that it is not just me who is enjoying his music more with each listen.  A CD to have on the shelf to play time and again, just to be reminded that many musicians do jazz justice – this CD certainly does that – and more. CD Review by Sammy Stein

Performers:
Tim Harrison – Piano – Mark Wade – Bass – Scott Neumann – Drums

Track Listing:
1. Moving Day | 2. Wide Open | 3. The Bells | 4. Another Night In Tunisia | 5. Something Of A Romance | 6. Autumn Leaves | 7. Midnight In The Cathedral | 8. The Quarter | 9. In The Fading Rays Of Sunlight

Buy the Album at:  Amazon | Bandcamp

Artist website: Mark Wade

YT Video: Mark Wade

Last modified: July 15, 2018