Timing, as they say, is everything. So it seems appropriate that a day or so after someone died whose passion for life and his art was one of the glorious inspirations of my life, I'm reviewing a CD of music inspired by all the word remembrance can mean. In the liner notes to his new release Remebrance on the Concord Music Group label, John Patitucci talks about how not only was he attempting to pay tribute to those who have passed, but also remembering those who are still around and continue to inspire him with their playing. However, the disc is not just about remembering people - it's about remembering to be in the present, enjoying the moments we are blessed with, and not allowing ourselves to become caught up in the past or preoccupied with the future.
Patitucci doesn't draw a line connecting the former and the latter parts of the above, but the way I see it the work of those who have truly inspired us will have the power to ensure that we stay in the present. For their music, painting, or writing wouldn't inspire us if it wasn't able to attract out complete attention and keep us in the moment. Now these are all fine and noble sentiments, but how do you translate them into music? The first option is to create pieces in tribute to the folk you're going to miss and try to recreate some of what they had done that inspired you (the same can be done for those still living), while the other option is to create pieces of music that are powerful incentives to keep people focused on the here and now.
For this effort he's joined by other members of his trio, Joe Lovano (tenor saxophone) and Brian Blade (drums) on ten of the eleven tracks on the disc, while his wife adds some beautiful cello work to "Scenes From An Opera" and Rogerio Boccato fills some gaps with percussion on four tracks. For the final track of the disc, the title track, Patitucci plays against himself, bass against a piccolo bass. Oh - had I failed to mention that Patitucci was a bass player until now? Well he is, and while Jaco Pastorous was magnificent, there's something about the quality of Patitucci's playing that makes me feel like he is the superior musician. I didn't say bass player, I said musician which is an important distinction.
Don't get me wrong I love Pastorous' playing just as much as anybody's but he died young, before he had a chance to fully develop as a musician. What he could have accomplished if he had the time is another thing altogether. However, listening to Patitucci's playing and his compositions on this disc, he wrote all eleven tracks, you can't help but be impressed by his range of expression, the breadth of his artistic awareness, and his imagination. For while "Monk/Trane" is obviously a tribute to John & Alice Coletrane and Thelonious Monk as the title suggests, he doesn't just try and write something that will imitate those three great players, the song also manages to express something of what the music meant to him personally as well.