Thursday, September 15, 2011

Scenes: Silent Photographer

Origin Arts
By Ric Bang
Buy CD: Silent Photographer

Scenes is the nom de trio of guitarist John Stowell, bassist Jeff Johnson and drummer John Bishop. These individuals have played with literally dozens of name musicians during their busy careers and, together or individually, have been involved in hundreds of recording sessions.

Their common thread? They’re part of the flourishing Pacific Northwest jazz population. Bishop is the founder of Origin Arts and OA2 Records, and he began Seattle’s annual Ballard Jazz Festival. Johnson often works with pianist Jessica Williams, another resident in the Seattle area, and tours with pianist Hal Galper’s trio. Stowell teaches and tours extensively outside the States and is particularly well known in Japan.

All three are consummate artists, and they share another characteristic: Each is a first-call choice by vocalists who select backup musicians for their recording sessions. That speaks volumes about their ability to meld effectively, and not overwhelm the featured artist’s melodic lines.

Most of the tunes on this album are originals by members of the trio. The exceptions are Herbie Hancock’s “Chan’s Song,” John Coltrane’s “Resolution” and Wayne Shorter’s Black Eyes. No matter who the composer is, the result is beautiful, relaxed, easy-listening jazz. Tempos range from balladic to up-tempo swingers, and the interplay among the artists is wonderful; their time together is quite evident during both the ensemble melodic lines and solo passages.

You should seek out any of the many albums with which these three master artists have been involved ... starting with this one.

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