Jazz Improv Magazine Review of Blue In Green by Winthrop Bedford
BLUE IN GREEN — GMMC Records (745-2); Web: www.gmmcrecords.com. Beautiful Love; Blue In Green; Autumn Leaves; Gentle Rain; Dolphin Dance; Corcovado; Footprints; 'Round Midnight"
PERSONNEL: Johnterryl Plumeri, bass; David Goldblatt, piano; Joe LaBarbera, drums
By Winthrop Bedford
Imagine the bass soloist articulating melodies characterized by sounds of the bowed excursions of Slam Stewart, the legato phrasing of a tenor or baritone saxophone, with just the right touch of Ben Webster's vibrato. Then switch gears and imagine the same individual taking on the role of accompanist — a dash of Eddie Gomez, and some Gary Peacock. With great sensitivity, his impromptu albeit highly intuitive, sensitive entrances, and brief syncopated phrases accent the piano player's lead. There's no need for further imagination at this point. Bassist Johnterryl Plumeri provides all the evidence during the first track of his newly released album Blue In Green. Even better, the performances and solo improvisations on the parts of Plumeri on bass, David Goldblatt on piano and Joe LaBarbera on drums are outstanding throughout the range of tempos, grooves and styles they explore.
The first track "Beautiful Love" opens with Plumeri bowing the melody of this lovely standard. The medium groove intensifies as Plumeri takes on the role of accompanist offering strong support and musical seedlings to spark the group interactivity, "Blue In Green," composed by Bill Evans, and appropriated by Miles Davis as his own composition, is beautifully expressed by Plumeri. There is a seamless transition from his bowing of the melody to transitioning to pulling the strings, as Goldblatt emerges with an imaginative, lyrical solo on this ballad.
The trio picks up the pace with "Autumn Leaves." Plumeri opens the song with his signature bowing of the melody. LaBarbera and Goldblatt complement his beautifully bowed and swinging solo with apropos rhythmic and chordal punctuation. Plumeri segues into walking powerfully behind Goldblatt's solo. Goldblatt's articulation, rhythmic, harmonic and melodic vocabulary suggest Keith Jarrett as a strong influence, and the interaction between Plumeri and Goldblatt solidify that observation. LaBarbera is a superb listener, whose skill enables him to provide ideal complement to the dynamically changing landscape that Plumeri and Goldblatt create.
The group approaches "Gentle Rain" as a relaxed bossa nova. Plumeri continues to ply his skill at developing the vocal quality of the bass, through his extraordinary bowing facility. The group explores the harmonically-rich Herbie Hancock composition Dolphin Dance" at a relaxed swing tempo, and with expected flare and character. Both Plumeri and Goldblatt solo with great sensitivity, offering compelling rhythmic and lyrical statements. The contrasting sounds of their respective instruments, their melodic approaches, and stunning interactivity makes this a listen full of pleasant surprises.
The album also includes a relaxed Latin rendition of Jobim's "Corcovado" ("Quiet Night of Quiet Stars"). Plumeri's ability to get the bass to sound sometimes like a flute, or a human voice, or a string instrument, or sometimes embody a sax-like quality, combined with rhythmic imagination is fresh and enjoyable. Wayne Shorter's "Footprints" is energetic and the 3/4 feel is in keeping with the classic interpretation. Plumeri bows the head on "Round Midnight" by Thelonious Monk, and the piece is as haunting and beautiful as ever.
This album shows the broad scope of Johnterryl Plumeri's abilities as a jazz player — accompanist and soloist. He has also performed and recorded with Roberta Flack, Quincy Jones, Herbie Hancock, John Abercrombie and many others. His activities span the pop and classical genres as well. He has conducted his own works with the Moscow Symphony, among others and appeared as a guest soloist with among other orchestras, The Boston Pops. All of that is in addition to composing the scores for more than 40 films.
Blue In Green is an album bubbling with creativity, interactivity, magnificent improvisations, and the combined experience, sensitivity, and desire of three consummate musicians performing eight essential pieces from the jazz and standard repertoire. Go and listen.
Jazz Improv Magazine