Subject: I have found a CD that I think you would enjoy
Groove Is Universal
Genres: Jazz, Special Interest, Pop
Listen to Samples
Belongs on anybody's list of the best 90's jazz albums!
greg taylor | Portland, Oregon United States | 12/02/2001
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I cannot believe I am the first person to review this CD. What a shame that it is not better known. Helias belongs to the tradition of bassists who are also great composers and/or bandleaders. If you are wondering what I am talking about, think Mingus or Haden.
This CD is my personal favorite of the string of CDs that Helias released on enja during the ninties. Amazon carries the rest. They are all worth owning.
On Loopin' the Cool Helias found the perfect combination of material and personnel. The group is Helias on the upright bass (with a fine big fat woody tone), Ellery Eskelin on the tenor, Regina Carter on the violin, Tom Rainy on drums and percussion and Epizo Bangoura on djembe and percussion. I wish I could convey how well this instrumentation works. Eskelin and Carter are tonal masters of their instruments. Together they create timbral possibilities that obviously inspired Helias the composer. A warning to fans of Regina Carter who know her from her own CDs. She is a different musician on this disc, to my ears far superior to the smoother sort of jazz that she plays on her own (I have to confess that I have only heard her first one- I know I need to listen to the one she put out with Kenny Barron). She is featured on Loopin the Cool and El Baz. The latter piece is very Arabic in nature with Carter playing the sort of melody I associate with the oud. Eskelin is totally on his game on this CD. He combines a tone like Shepp with a melodic sense like Shorter with an appreciation for some of the underappreciated corners of the tenor tradition (like Gene Ammons) and comes up with a unique style all his own. Listen to him pay his respect to Jug on Hung Over Easy or go outside on Sector 51 or for that matter just listen to him play his heart out on every piece on this album. I would also like to mention the song Penta Houve for its lovely combination of tenor, violin and djembe. One final note- Tom Rainey is in the process of becoming one of the great studio drummers of our time. He totally dedicates himself to the service of the music and has (to quote Mr. Helias) a "very deep beat". Amen to that.
And amen to Mark Helias for the gift of this album and his others. His is an original voice. One of the great facets of that voice is the way he deeply hears the strengths of the musicians he plays with and is able to use that understanding to write compositions that allow them to show themselves off at full strength. The only way to repay that gift is to listen just as hard to what he has wrought."