Brad Cheeseman – The Tide Turns (2017)

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Brad Cheeseman’s second long player The Tide Turns sees the Canadian electric bassist, composer and bandleader continue to strike the right balance between these three hats that he wears. Out on August 25, 2017, Cheeseman’s 2nd LP (along with two EPs) shows incremental growth from a musician whose Brad Cheeseman Group debut already presented a fully formed artist delivering fully formed ideas and an advanced bass technique that falls somewhere between Steve Swallow and Jaco Pastorius. And perhaps not coincidentally, Cheeseman draws judiciously from both the modern jazz of Swallow and the fusion jazz of Pastorius, a rich hybrid first widely exploited by the original Pat Metheny Group.

The evolving Brad Cheeseman Group still has Robert Chapman (guitar) and Sam Kogen (piano & keyboards) from the self-titled release, plus newcomers Kelly Jefferson on tenor sax and Marito Marques on drums. Together they bring Cheeseman’s compositions to life in a contemporary setting that isn’t likely to get dated because of this band’s tightness, which often starts with the bass player himself.

Cheeseman is one of the bassists who can add substance to a song without the need to solo or show off. His taut bass lines on “Falling Forward” sets the tone all by itself, and Chapman turns in a crisp solo with substantive comping from Kogen’s piano. Those sturdy bass patterns also propel the Brazilian flavored “Get That Fire,” another number that features Chapman.

“The Tide Turns” Cheeseman makes his bass an instrument of bright, fragile rhapsody, following along with Jefferson at first and then venturing off on his own, spinning poetry within the confines of the melody. “All In” is that urbane, driving funk-jazz number Cheeseman has been known to uncork on occasion, and he’s good enough at it to make a whole album of this approach if he so chose to.

The individual performances are fine, but Cheeseman’s articulate, line-blurring composition approach sets the music above the pack. For instance, “29” dives headlong into post-rock in the opening and closing segments, bracketing a middle section that exchanges the clamorous riffs for nimble melodic development, and Cheeseman makes them feel all part of the same idea.

When it’s ballad time, it never gets too sappy; “Something You Said” is lyrical with a natural flow and yet still holds some complexity. Here, Cheeseman makes his bass sing like Swallow during his solo turn. The only non-original song “Lonely Lonely” is a rolling, passionate statement accentuated by Marques’ free flowing drums.

Proving again that contemporary jazz doesn’t necessarily equate to smooth jazz, Brad Cheeseman churns out another solid set of tracks where real work is put in from conception to execution.

Purchase The Tide Turns through Bandcamp.


S. Victor Aaron

S. Victor Aaron

S. Victor Aaron is an SQL demon for a Fortune 100 company by day, music opinion-maker at night. His musings are strewn out across the interwebs on jazz.com, AllAboutJazz.com, a football discussion board and some inchoate customer reviews of records from the late 1990s on Amazon under a pseudonym that will never be revealed. E-mail him at svaaron@somethingelsereviews .com or follow him on Twitter at https://twitter.com/SVictorAaron
S. Victor Aaron
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