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Author of Funny Valentine, an acclaimed new biography of the jazz trumpet player and singer, Chet Baker.
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Friday, 24 July 2015 17:43

Mark Wade Trio – Event Horizon

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New York bass player Mark Wade impresses with his debut recording

Event Horizon is the debut recording by New York based bass player, Mark Wade. Over the last twenty years, his music career has spanned both jazz and classical music. He has performed with numerous orchestras, including the Key West Symphony and the Orchestra of the Bronx, and is also a New York Pops Teaching Artist. His jazz credits include tours with Jimmy Heath and James Spaulding, and a TV appearance with vocalist Stacey Kent.

The roots of this album stem from a lengthy spell as artist-in-residence at Flushing Town Hall in 2013 and 2014, where he got to work with Tim Harrison, an English pianist, and American drummer Scott Neumann. The chemistry between the three musicians was such that Wade began to compose original tunes for the trio. “Their musicality influenced the writing choices I made,” he revealed.

Wade himself studied with veteran bassist Mike Richmond at New York University, and regards him as a major influence. He also admires Ray Brown, Paul Chambers and the great Scott LaFaro.

The influence of LaFaro can certainly be heard on the opening track, Jump For Joy, a delightful waltz that brings to mind the early recordings of the Bill Evans Trio. There’s some lovely interplay between the musicians. Listen to the lovely support by Harrison as Wade solos. “He’s really sensitive,” the bass player explains. “He listens, and he’s really conscious about getting the music right and sounding good.” The Prisoner starts at a slow pace, suggesting a reflective mood perhaps, but the tension gradually builds, before the pace slows again into the close. It’s another interesting tune, and showcases Wade’s skill as a composer. 

The mood changes somewhat with Apogee. Whilst it is another ballad, it has no time, so the playing is much looser in style. The musicians rise to the occasion, however, with a free-flowing exchange of ideas. Singsong is in a similar vein. There’s no melody, as such, but there is a motif the band keep coming back to, which helps to hold things together. Drummer Scott Neumann comes into his own on this track, feeding his colleagues with a steady supply of new patterns to play off.

Tossed has a slight Afro-Cuban feel to it, which allows pianist Tim Harrison to shine, whilst Valley And Stream and Cold Spring are, as the titles suggest, ballads with a more relaxed, rustic flavour to them. The album closes with the only cover – If Only I Had A Brain, by Harold Arlen, which is taken from the Wizard Of Oz. This tune has a wonderful 5/4 swing to it, much like the opening track, and effectively brings us full circle. 

Event Horizon is a scientific term, which, in simple terms, refers to the edge at which something happens. Mark Wade has effectively reached that stage of his musical career, and has chosen two expressive and sympathetic musicians to join him in his new venture. There’s much to admire on this album, from Wade’s lovely tone, and crisp playing, the superb support from both Harrison and Neumann, and the distinctive, original compositions. If there is a fault, one could perhaps suggest that the Trio try to cover too many musical bases on their debut recording, but this is a minor complaint. The playing on Event Horizon is of the highest calibre, and the album is well worth checking out.

 

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