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John Patitucci – Imprint
Concord Jazz
by Chuck Obuchowski

    John Patitucci is an artist whose profound sensitivity, dexterity and creativity place him firmly in the upper echelon of today’s jazz bass players. Although for many years sought after as a sideman by high-profile musicians--Chick Corea, Freddie Hubbard and David Sanborn, to name but a few--Patitucci is no mere accompanist.
    Imprint, his ninth recording to date as leader, finds the 40-year-old string man trying his hand at modern Afro-Cuban jazz concepts for half the program, and, on the remainder of the disc, fulfilling a longtime desire to record with restless drum master Jack DeJohnette. Both undertakings produce very engaging results that will appeal to a broad audience, without pandering to the smooth jazz crowd as his former label, GRP, has been accused of in the past.
    The Afro-Cuban "team" includes percussion juggernauts Horacio "El Negro" Hernandez and Giovanni Hidalgo, plus rising piano star Danilo Perez. John Beasley, a Patitucci cohort "ever since I started having groups," according to the bassist, tickles the ivories quite adeptly on most of the tracks featuring DeJohnette. Beasley’s penchant for rhapsodic balladry is particularly effective on a duet adaptation of a Japanese folk song, which also serves as a showcase for Patitucci’s bowing skills.
    Alternating in the saxophone department are two of the most distinctive gen-x reedmen currently vying for attention on the crowded New York scene: Chris Potter and Mark Turner. They spar with one another only once, on the powerful "Little Steps," a nickname bestowed upon the leader by one of his favorite employers, Mr. Roy Haynes.
    As for Patitucci himself, he sounds equally at home with the prancing electric-six-string rhythms of the title piece, or waxing poetic on his acoustic instrument, as he does during "Joan," a very pretty dedication to his mother, who had died shortly before Imprint was recorded.
    Perhaps the most surprising cut on this album, one of only two tunes here not written by Patitucci, is a feisty rendition of Mongo Santamaria’s classic "Afro-Blue," daringly presented as a duet for acoustic bass and congas.
    Patitucci and Hidalgo are not only up to the task, they manage to bring renewed spirit to the oft-played jazz standard.

Copyright©WWUH: March/April Program Guide, 2000

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