As someone rather wise and with exquisite taste once said, “If you’ve never had caviar, then you haven’t lived! You haven’t lived until you’ve been to Paris—it’s heaven.” Exactly that thought and sentiment applies to the musicianship of bassist David Finck. A consummate master of his instrument Mr Finck is one of the most eloquent “singers” on the lugubrious bass violin. His playing seems to mimic the instrument’s perfect, gliding curves and, with dexterity and the firm attack of his fingers, Mr Finck creates incredibly woody sounds that resonate in the chest where the body’s heart beats. Ask any music virtuoso and aficionado – be he or she in the classical realm or the Jazz one – and if anyone knows music at all they will catch their breaths at the very sound of the burnished, woody notes produced by Mr Finck.
On his 2019 recording, BASSically Jazz Mr Finck seems to extend the range of his instrument – not simply because he explores the extremes of its registers, but because – musically – Mr Finck extends the range of the contrabass. Playing the skipping melody of “O Barquinho” pizzicato he literally sings the lines that as its composer, Roberto Menescal wrote with the winged beauty that Nara Leão once brought to the wistful music, evoking everything from the morning mist to the silken movement of the barquinho; all with a caress of the strings as if the curves of a lover’s body. On “The Song Is You”, he describes – in the soaring effervescence of his solo, the swing of delight of the very essence of Jazz itself. And just so you know that you are going to get the full range of emotions from a master manipulator of an instrument that is diabolically difficult to master, there is “When I Look Into Your Eyes” in which he makes the instrument weep with his masterful playing con arco, doing likewise together with the ineffably brilliant Joe Locke (on vibraphone) as he weeps again – this time pizzicato on the theme from “Alfie”.
Another discovery – as if that were necessary at all – is the masterful accompaniment of two wonderful vocalists – Alexis Cole on “I Love You So” and “Bluesette” and Linda Eder on “The Summer Never Knows”. I is no discovery after all to know that Mr Finck can make music with a vocalist, but the elegance and grace that he brings to the instrument as he uses the rumbling gravitas of its (the contrabass’) tone and raspy textures to offset the soaring mezzo of Miss Cole and the soprano of Miss Eder is a telling aspect of the masterful use of colour and contrast. Immediately after this perfect display on the classic “Bluesette”, Mr Finck opens the floodgates of his genius as he introduces negotiates the opening choruses of “Walking My Baby Back Home”.
This whole production is touched by mastery – musically as well as what happens in the back-end of the music itself. Not only are the musicians – especially Mr Locke, pianist Jim Ridl and drummer Cliff Almond – so completely attuned to the vision and artistry of Mr Finck, but so are those who make occasional appearances as well. There is also a surprise at the end of it all, which is a forlorn version, exquisitely phrased version of “All My Tomorrows” with vocals by the bassist. Production values are excellent. The recorded sound is voluptuous and basks in a kind of moist warmth, making this music an unforgettable experience . Truly an album to die for…
Track list – 1: Old Devil Moon; 2: O Barquinho; 3: The Summer Knows; 4: Moment’s Notice; 5: Tuyo (Theme From Narcos); 6: I Love You So; 7: The Song Is You; 8: When I Look in Your Eyes; 9: Alfie; 10: Bluesette; 11: Walkin’ My Baby Back Home; 12: All My Tomorrows
Personnel – David Finck contrabass; Joe Locke vibraphone; Jim Ridl piano; Cliff Almond drums; Ali Ryerson flute; Bob Mann guitar; Kevin Winard percussion; Mike Davis trombone; and featuring Linda Eder vocals (3); Alexis Cole vocals (6, 10)
Released – 2019
Label – Burton Avenue Music
Runtime – 53:37