Bassist extraordinaire John Patitucci has been bouncing around the jazz world for over 30 years now. On Remembrance, his thirteenth album as a bandleader, Patitucci takes time out to honor some of his heroes.
The record was recorded in a trio format, with drummer Brian Blades and saxophonist Joe Lovano. Lovano in particular is on a roll lately, having recently taken part in Steve Kuhn’s Mostly Coltrane project. Lovano played the Coltrane parts to widespread acclaim.
Remembrance opens with “Monk/Trane,” a great piece which allows all three to stretch out and fully explore their roles. “Sonny Side” is so true to the sound of Sonny Rollins I began to wonder if I were hearing outtakes from Saxophone Colossus. Lovano’s Sonny Rollins role is every bit as spot-on as his Coltrane. The solos taken by both Patitucci and Blades slot in beautifully as well.
Patitucci played on the 1994 Ry Cooder-Ali Farka Touré recording Talking Timbuktu, and was obviously moved by the immensely talented African musician. “Mali” is his tribute to Touré and finds the band in a challenging format.
“Safari” is another somewhat exotic excursion for the trio, and opens with an extended bass solo from Patitucci. The track then settles in for an almost Martin Denny-esque trip through the jungle.
“Scenes From An Opera” is certainly the most adventurous cut on Remembrance. The track features wife Sachi Patitucci on cello. The string sections for this mini-opera were recorded first, then the trio improvised over the playback. The result is unique, to say the least.
The brightest spot of Remembrance is also the longest. Patitucci’s tribute to Joe Henderson, titled “Joe Hen” sparkles with Lovano’s blazing horn. Meanwhile between solos, bass and drum are locked into a solid 7:45 groove.
Fittingly, the record ends on a bittersweet note with the title song. Written for his late friend Michael Brecker, “Remembrance” is played solo. With his six-string electric bass overdubbed onto a six-string electric piccolo bass, John Patitucci has crafted a haunting farewell.
Remembrance works as a celebration of the music of these and other legendary jazz figures, as well as an excellent piece of music in its own right.