Jason Raso’s DETOUR from 2006 is very much a bass-centric album, whereas SLINGSHOT, released in 2013, is a full band album, and every instrument has centre stage at some point or another. The bass unifies the project, but is not the only star.
Each of the other three other members in the Quartet lays down the groove as part of this hot performance, which could easily make a great set for a live gig. An evening with... would work well with this line-up of tunes.
In addition to Raso on bass, we have the skilled Adam Bowman on drums - he definitely opens the way for the others to dive into the pocket; you’ll remember him from the “Glass Case Of Emotion” video included in the DETOUR review. Even without a kit, he owns the rhythm in the video. Brent Rowan is our fiery sax man, who really knows how to tear it up! His sharp, tangy playing tastes particularly delicious. And Thomas Hammerton keeps the keyboards smoking under his able touch. Though the album is styled as (and feels exactly like) a nostalgia based jazz club performance, each of these musicians adds his own touches to bring it into modern times. You get the best of both worlds, and the feeling couldn’t be better.
Jason Raso - bass, Adam Bowman - drums, Brent Rowan - sax, Thomas Hammerton - keyboards
The opener, Slingshot, starts the night with some groovy bass tapping/harmonics by Raso, and then gives way to the licks of keyboard and sax. Drummer Bowman lays out the canvas for each to create his portion of the picture.
Dip & Dodge is a staccato jazz piece which pretty much lives up to its name. Twists and turns in style and delivery keep the listener in the groove and on the move.
My Mind Wanders is more bass-centric than some of the others. I hear several different styles throughout: raking, slapping, plucking. A real showcase of Raso’s skills.
Two For Bela begins with a sultry organ groove, drums and bass. Beautiful. This piece actually feels a little along the lines of Santana’s Oye Como Va, and there is definitely a Latin presence throughout. Maybe a bit of Nick Cave thrown into the mood as well. The song is over six minutes; be prepared for some extended hip-shaking. This one is easily my fave of the album. Y’all know how much I love the sound of the organ. But organ and bass together? Aye Carumba!
Are You ___ Serious springs to life with a fiery drum/saxophone combo, then explodes into a full band sound that will keep those toes tappin’.
The Tornado Stole My Hamburger Blues. One! Two! You know what to do! This one’s sort of a sax-centric thang, with the organ coming up on the outside. Raso lays down a cool walking bass line and Bowman’s snazzy touch on the drums keeps you bobbin’ along in your stage-side seat. Hotcha! Wild sax ending! Like a traffic jam!
Handprint Garden Of Love is a softer, more emotional number, once again highlighting Raso’s skill and range on the bass. Lots of runs and improv in the fill - then it mellows down again for the ending. When I listen to a bassist strut his stuff, this is what I want. Skill without excess for the sake of excess. Nice keyboards and sax, too. A very tasty little number.
All That Democracy Jazz is an appropriately funky ending to the night’s performance. Lotsa groove and mood. At over eight minutes, it’s the longest track on the album. A softer sax, spare drums - just enough to keep everybody grooving - and very gentle keyboards. The song perks up and relaxes in waves throughout, like it’s breathing. Listen for the bass effects that give this one a really modern feel.
Overall, I love this album. I wanted to review it as a comparison to DETOUR. Less bass focused overall, but much more mature and well blended. I highly recommend you try it. Actually, try as much of Jason Raso’s music as you can get your ears on. He’s a nice, and very welcome addition to my own list of fave bassists.
© 2014 CL Seamus for Thunder Row