It’s hardly news that David Finck is an eloquent, inventive, and swinging bassist, with a long line of illustrious projects and collaborators. Finck has been on hundreds of top recordings and stages, performing with everyone from Rosemary Clooney to Ivan Lins and George Michael, and was the favorite bassist of the great Andre Previn. While Finck is usually celebrated for his tasteful playing, Bassically Jazz highlights his considerable talents as arranger and producer. This third release under his own name (Burton Avenue Music) follows Future Day (2008) and Low Standards (2017), which were both on Soundbrush Records; like the first two, this outing is nothing less than exceptional.
One reason is that Bassically Jazz never wanders off into the kind of self-indulgent soloing that leaves the melodies far behind. Although all these superb players get their time in the sun, no one track is more than five minutes long, keeping the focus on the structural and melodic beauty of the songs.
Happily, this approach also leaves room for an unusually generous dozen tracks, including ten favorites from the American Songbook, a headlong samba, and the sultry Latin theme of a recent Netflix series. Things hit the ground swinging with “Old Devil Moon,” featuring peerless vibeist Joe Locke, with a witty Finck solo that exemplifies the notion of “playing” music. The Brazilian gem “O Barquinho” is polished into high gleam by pianist Jim Ridl and percussionist Kevin Winard. Other highlights include the great bass/drum volley with drummer Cliff Almond on “The Song is You” and Finck’s exquisite bowing on “Summer of 42,” which lovingly embraces Linda Eder‘s gorgeous vocal. Ali Ryerson‘s flute adds cool breezes to the jubilant Finck original, “I Love You So,” as well as to vocalist Alexis Cole‘s definitive and bracing reading of the classic “Bluesette.”
The recorded sound of Bassically Jazz showcases the rich and singing tone of Finck’s instrument whether he is propelling or leading the tune, as he does in “Alfie,” “When I Look in Your Eyes,” and “Walking My Baby Back Home.” His endearing, Sinatra-esque singing on “All My Tomorrows” completes this beautifully crafted session, which is thoughtfully sequenced to provide the most satisfying journey. All told, jazz doesn’t get any better than this.
Track Listing: Old Devil Moon; O Barquinho; The Summer Knows; Moment’s Notice; Tuyo (Theme from Narcos); I Love You So; When I Look in Your Eyes; The Song is You; Alfie; Bluesette; Walkin’ My Baby Back Home; All My Tomorrows.
Personnel: David Finck: bass, vocal (12); Joe Locke: vibes; Jim Ridl: piano; Cliff Almond: drums; Ali Ryerson, flute (6, 10); Kevin Winard, percussion; Mike David: trombone (5); Linda Eder (3), Alexis Cole (6, 10): vocals.