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A review of John Patitucci Trio’s “Remembrance”

John Patitucci: RemembranceJohn Patitucci’s latest release, Remembrance, on Concord Jazz is yet another masterpiece in his extensive discography. The album is Patitucci’s seventh with Concord and his thirteenth as a leader.

Remembrance features Patitucci on acoustic bass, 6-string electric bass, 6-string electric piccolo bass; Joe Lovano playing tenor saxophone and alto clarinet along with Brian Blade on drums. The trio is also accompanied by percussionist Rogerio Boccato and cellist Sachi Patitucci on select tracks.

The seeds for Remembrance were first planted in 2001, when the trio recorded as a quartet with pianist Brad Mehldau to create Patitucci’s Communion Concord Jazz album. Mehldau had missed a rehearsal and the trio played with electrifying results.

“We freaked out,” Patitucci says. “We looked at each other and said that we should do a record like this someday. Ever since that time eight years ago, this album has been brewing within me.”

Remembrance was designed to be a highly organic album. It was recorded live in the studio with all the players in the same room without using headphones. “I wanted it to sound organic and let the bass bleed into other things Joe and Brian were doing,” Patitucci says. “Plus, my bass sound was able to be a little bigger, broader and warmer…”

Remembrance is an ambitious work which pays homage to influential musicians through jazz history, remembering the likes of Thelonius Monk, John Coltrane, Olivier Messaien, Freddie Hubbard, Joe Henderson, Ray Brown, Sonny Rollins and Michael Brecker with 11 original compositions.

The trio comes in strong with “Monk/Trane,” rearranging the chord structure to “Giant Steps” with intense interplay between each member. You can hear Patitucci with an engaging solo right from the beginning, he exemplifies controlled power and sets the standard for the musical quality in the rest of the album. Things get a little funkier in “Messaien’s Gumbo” where Patitucci’s solid groove is complimented by Blade’s accentual playing with Lovano floating over top.

What would an album titled Remembrance be without a classic sound? “Sonny Side” provides exactly that, you get a strong head played out by Lovano followed with superb melodic improvisation while Patitucci and Blade make a totally chilled out rhythm section. Patitucci channels the great jazz bassists in this piece, his walking bass lines are just as interesting as any solo. From here we move into “Meditations, ” an open sounding song that is equal parts day-dream and slowdance. Lovano’s running lines over the smooth and haunting electric bass chord progressions and atmospheric drumming create a highly textural piece. Things pick right back up with “Mali!” A poly-rhythmic groove where Blade lays down some stunning drum work with Boccato to compliment Patitucci’s funk playing.

Have I mentioned how dynamic this album is yet? “Scenes From an Opera” has Lovano on alto clarinet and features Sachi Patitucci on cello. This piece sounds the most free to me, a broken-time conversation between the trio with Sachi providing swells in sound to lift everyone up into the moment. This jumps into “Blues For Freddie” where Patitucci again takes an early lead on the upright bass and blows your mind. His improvisation is totally engaging, he moves freely throughout the different registers of the bass and seamless transitions back to his walking lines.

“Safari” does indeed feel foreign, Patitucci throws down a cyclic bass line that’s both eerie and intriguing while Blade and Lovano complete the outside feel with their playing. “Joe Hen” starts off with a bang by Blade, opening with rolling drums and brief melodic spurts by Lovano. The tune moves right into a fast swing that just keeps going forward while always coming back to that original motif. Ray Brown gets his tribute with “Play Ball,” it has the making of an instant classic and could be called at any jam session, the trio renders it masterfully.

Finally the album closes with the title track “Remembrance” featuring doubled electric basses played by Patitucci. Arpeggiated chords with a singing melody make for a great closing piece to a spectacular album.

“It’s not an easy thing for a bass player to be able to lead his own group and record today,” said Patitucci. “Our musical elders were the trailblazers who forged a path for us to follow.” Remembrance certainly shows the many trails that have been forged over time, it is a fantastic album and even more spectacular since it pays tribute to those who have come before. Musically we truly “stand on the shoulders of giants” and Patitucci is providing the next platform for others to learn and grow. Remembrance should be in every bassist’s collection, you will never tire of listening to it.

Preview and download Remembrance