By Howard Mandel | Published June 2018
Bassist Martin Wind summons many colors on his 12th album as a leader, with an all-star cast that clearly enjoys the meticulously detailed compositions and arrangements grounded by his superb instrumental skills. The hues are mostly brighter than light blue or reflect the sweetly sad cast of Brazilian “saudade.”
Wind’s fleet, tone-perfect pizzicato improvisation is showcased from the start on “While I’m Still Here,” a romp based on “Sweet Georgia Brown,” fleshed out by Gary Versace’s organ, Scott Robinson on tenor saxophone and trumpeter Ingrid Jensen, with brisk brushing by Matt Wilson.
Wind’s bass anchors that aggregate through his ballad “Rose” (on which Robinson makes an aching taragota statement), the jaunty “Ten Minute Song” (Robinson blends perfectly with Anat Cohen’s clarinet on the head and has a three-chorus bass saxophone solo) and “February,” in which the mix makes trumpet and overdubbed alto and tenor parts a backdrop through which Versace’s highest piano notes and Wind’s gentle, firm strums can shine.
“Power Chords,” perhaps the darkest and freest piece included on Light Blue, is almost like an acoustic extrapolation of Miles Davis’ 1986 album Tutu. Wind’s low bowing sets an ominous vibe, then rips. Jensen’s solo is far-reaching; Robinson’s bass saxophone and Versace’s organ spar, growl and roar; Wilson rocks and drives.
The next five tracks, from a second day in the studio, shift personnel and sensibility. Jensen and Versace are gone, Cohen spotlit (in a clarinet duo with Robinson on “Genius/Saint”) and Bill Cunliffe at the piano. “Seven Steps To Rio” exemplifies these songs: Maucha Adnet sings in Portuguese, her husband Duduka Da Fonseca playing true samba rhythms, Cohen flowing over Wind’s acoustic bass. “De Norte A Sul” has an intricate horn episode, while “A Sad Story” and “Longing” are moody themes.
Light Blue can offer listeners variety, structure, spirit and finesse.
Light Blue: While I’m Still Here; Rose; Ten Minute Song; February; Power Chords; A Genius And A Saint; Seven Steps To Rio; A Sad Story; De Norte A Sul; Longing. (60:25)
Personnel: Martin Wind, bass; Anat Cohen, clarinet; Ingrid Jensen, trumpet; Scott Robinson, saxophones, taragota, clarinet; Maucha Adnet, vocals; Bill Cunliffe, piano; Gary Versace, piano, organ; Matt Wilson, Duduka Da Fonseca, drums.