Review: Ben Bastin Trio - The Missing Piece
|Artist:||Ben Bastin Trio|
|Album:||The Missing Piece|
|Date of Release:||2011/03/23|
|Country of Release:||UK|
|Sub-Genre/s:||Contemporary, Post-bop, Hard Bop|
|Date of Review:||2011/03/09|
The Missing Piece - From The Sublime To The Sublime
Due to be released on Pastiche Records on 23rd March, the Ben Bastin Trio's debut album The Missing Piece landed here literally red hot off the mixing and mastering desk. (The actual, physical CD will be ready just in time for the launch gig on 23rd March.) Now, being familiar with Ben Bastin's as well as his coconspirators John Turville's and to a lesser extent Joshua Blackmore's work in other settings, I was already hugely looking forward to this album and was sure this was bound to be an outstanding album.
But nothing could have forewarned me of the absolutely sensational excellence and sheer delight that came down over the net the other night as I downloaded The Missing Piece! A work of sheer genius!
Bastin, a remarkably young as well as remarkably mature talent, has already been making big waves over the last few years, especially through his work with jazzy singer-songwriter goddess Sarah Gillespie and jazz titan Gilad Atzmon in the Sarah Gillespie Quartet, with whom he has recorded two albums to date. He has indeed long given notice to bassists beyond his generation to better watch out. Labeled as 'tone deaf' at school, the teacher responsible for this absurd assessment surely must wish the ground would open to swallow him or her up upon hearing Bastin now. A world class player.
Pianist John Turville will need little introduction, as will drummer Joshua Blackmore. Turville particularly so, being one of the three finest pianists of his generation on the UK scene, and one of the finest, period. His performance and recording creds are like a 'who's who' of the cream of contemporary British jazz and more besides. Blackmore, a 'young gun' like Bastin, is perhaps still best known as a member of the award-winning Curios (with Tom Cawley and Sam Burgess), as well as Troyka (with Kit Downes and Chris Montague). His style is very distinctive and reflects a wide range of influences, and Blackmore is undoubtedly one of the finest drummers of world class calibre of his generation on the British scene.
Together, Bastin, Turville and Blackmore are a perfect and lethal combination. On The Missing Piece, they sound more like a bunch of seasoned old troopers than a trio that only formed in the last couple of years or so, so tight is this trio. The ensemble playing - with or without the guest musicians - is as sublime as the soloing. This is trio heaven, and in time the Ben Bastin Trio is almost certain to be regarded as one of the finest bass-led trios ever, if this album is anything to go by.
Of the nine tracks on The Missing Piece, eight are Bastin originals, superbly, finely crafted, flowing compositions that are as inspired as they are inspiring. The ninth is an Amelia Tucker - the guest vocalist - composition, Scissors Paper Stone, that fits into this album supremely well.
While it would be utterly futile to try and pick out any particular favourite, the closer, Not Untitled, does manage to stand out from among this album of stand-outs. Ms. Tucker's wordless ethereal vocals contrast with yet complement the trio's increasingly harder choruses, ostinatos and improvs, turning near-climactic before mellowing out into nothingness. Sublime genius! And the perfect choice to close the album, too.
But then, each and every single track here stands out with its own particular strengths. The added violin and cello especially on Arthur is a touch of the divine. Bastin's bass is just out of this world, sometimes literally somewhere 'out there,' at other times, earthy, as a rock. The sounds that Bastin teases out of his bass are at times quite extraordinary, and there are times when he produces an amazingly guitar-like strum. Turville's ivories are an equal delight, with even the simplest ostinato turned into a work of art with Turville's superb, sensitive touch. Blackmore's trap work also delights, with some very subtle and sensitive playing and excellent cymbal work.
Overall, The Missing Piece displays strong classical influences, and at times you could think that some passages might have come straight from Vaughan Williams, at least in feel. This album could be almost as at home in a salon concert as in a jazz club. This music is suave and sophisticated without even trying, elegant, full of charm, wit, beauty and enchantment as well as excitement.
As consistent as could be, The Missing Piece is also far more than merely compelling. It is utterly mesmerising with its ethereal beauty. Indeed, so much so I had to stay up half the night when the album came down the line to listen to it repeatedly, immediately. The Missing Piece is simply brilliant, sublime, even awesome. This album is like the song of the sirens - completely irresistible. Magic! Hasn't stopped playing here yet, and won't for a long, long time.
It goes without saying that the Ben Bastin Trio's The Missing Piece is way beyond essential in any contemporary jazz collection, let alone any bass-led trio collection. But it really should have a place in any good music collection.
1. In Pursuit Of Old Age - 4:54
Ben Bastin - double bass
The Missing Piece can be purchased (from 23rd March 2011):
From the artist
From Jazz CDs UK
From Amazon UK
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