John Patitucci is an artist whose
profound sensitivity, dexterity and creativity place him firmly in the upper echelon of
todays 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. Beasleys penchant for rhapsodic balladry is particularly effective on a
duet adaptation of a Japanese folk song, which also serves as a showcase for
Patituccis 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
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 Santamarias 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