By Bill Milkowski | Published April 2020
British-born bassist-composer Gary Brunton and Serbian pianist Bojan Z reconnect with a longtime colleague, drumming marvel Simon Goubert, on the stellar Night Bus, an album named for the Noctilien, a nocturnal Parisian mode of transit that took Brunton and Z home in the late ’80s after they’d been hanging out at clubs. Their chemistry is as flexible as it is indelible while moving through a versatile set ranging from delicate ECM-ish introspection to aggressive swingers and an appealing jazz waltz.
Brunton, who studied privately with bass greats Henri Texier, Pierre Michelot and Dave Holland, reveals the profound influence of his teachers in resounding, woody upright tones, insistent walking lines, impeccable intonation and authoritative soloing—all in effect on swing-blues number “Dastardly.” The bassist reaches his lyrical peak on the serene ode “Ballad For Mickey Graillier” and exquisitely expresses himself on a solo bass feature, “CRW.”
Goubert swings emphatically and interactively on the uptempo burners and plays percussive colorist with cymbals on “One Afternoon.” His approach to the kit on the free intro to “Ready For Riga” is wildly creative and remarkably musical. Pianist Z, who flexes impressive right-hand chops throughout, acquits himself with hipness on the “Freedom Jazz Dance”–flavored opener, “83 Bis,” a hard groover that also has him pushing the harmonic envelope on a compelling solo.
There’s a large degree of group-think and risk-taking riding alongside this daring Parisian trio.
Night Bus: 83 Bis; Hasta La Victoria Siempre; Nobody’s Perfect; Ponponita; Next Up; CRW; Back Home; One Afternoon; Dastardly; Ballad For Mickey Graillier; Ready For Riga. (50:49)
Personnel: Gary Brunton, bass; Simon Goubert, drums; Bojan Z, piano.