Just yesterday I was reading a story in the press about a songwriter taking out a lawsuit against Ed Sheeran, claiming that one of his hit singles was based on a song that he had written, claiming that it was well-known that he was a “musical magpie”. Whilst I have no insight into the merits of that particular case, I do not that jazz musicians have regularly borrowed phrases or chord changes from other well-known compositions, but unlike certain singer-songwriters, they tend to be rather more subtle about it, offering a tip of the hat in polite recognition of the original.
Bassist Mark Wade goes one stage further, drawing on some of his wide-ranging influences, and even going as far as to co-credit the original composers where appropriate. Moreover, he brings his own ideas on each occasion, which are as inventive and refreshing as ever.
After a solo album, recorded during lockdown – the innovative Songs From Isolation – Mark has returned to his long-standing trio, which also features the excellent pianist Tim Harrison and versatile drummer Scott Neumann.
The album opens with I Feel More Like I Do Now, which was composed by Wade, and inspired by Miles Smiles, the first jazz album he ever bought. It feels as though it is based around a piano riff by Tim Harrison, who plays the first solo. It has a restless feel, like many of the Davis tunes from that era, but it’s fun and seriously funky too. Listen out for Mark’s solo, too, and the way drummer Scott Neumann injects his own ideas. Great stuff!
The influence of Miles Smiles can also be heard on Falling Delores, which is co-credited to saxophonist Wayne Shorter, and combines elements of two Shorter compositions with an original by Mark Wade.
Watch Mark's preview for the album here:
The Soldier And The Fiddle is perhaps the most ambitious piece here, and is inspired by Stravinsky’s The Soldier’s Tale; the inspiration came from the march-like rhythm in the bass, which can be heard at the beginning, and returns sporadically throughout the piece. There’s lots of space for the trio to improvise here, including some military-like drumming towards the end by Neumann, as well as fine solos by Harrison and Wade.
The knotty In The Market is co-credited to Wayne Shorter again, but also co-Weather Report member, Joe Zawinul. It draws on two tracks from their iconic Black Market album, which are again combined to good effect with an original composition by the band leader, Mark Wade, who contributes an impressive solo.
Piscataway Went That-a-Way is a simpler affair, a slow blues based around a Fred Hersch composition, Swamp Thing. Song With Orange And Other Things is more complex; a Wade original, composed in the style of Mingus, which goes into a swinging Mingus original, Song With Orange, which features some delightful piano by Harrison, who demonstrates the impressive breadth of his playing.
At The Sunside is, as the name suggests, a bright, fun tune, which opens with a few notes from Solokvist by Swedish jazz ensemble CORPO. Again, Wade takes the intro to places new, the tune gradually building, before giving way to a lovely solo by Mark Wade. The tune demonstrates how far this trip have come, with some extraordinary, exciting interaction between the three musicians as the piece draws to a close.
The production on the album, by Wade himself, is excellent. I think it’s band’s strongest statement to date, and demonstrates Wade’s growing ambitions as a composer of some note.
The album comes out on March 11 on Amp Music & Records.