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Bren Plummer | Nocturnal

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Jazz: Mainstream Jazz Jazz: Traditional Jazz Combo Moods: Instrumental
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by Bren Plummer

A collection of jazz standards by jazz greats Bill Evans, Miles Davis, Lee Morgan, Billy Strayhorn, Duke Ellington and Joe Chambers, as performed by Bren Plummer, John Hansen, and Reade Whitwell--an all-star, bass-led piano trio from Seattle, WA.
Genre: Jazz: Mainstream Jazz
Release Date: 

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  Song Share Time Download
1. Turn Out the Stars
6:03 $1.25
2. In the Blue of Evening
3:57 $1.25
3. Take Off
4:53 $1.25
4. The Star-Crossed Lovers
4:10 $1.25
5. Boy, What a Night!
5:48 $1.25
6. Stars Fell On Alabama
4:56 $1.25
7. Nocturnal
3:30 $1.25
8. The Night We Called It a Day
8:40 $1.25
Downloads are available as MP3-320 files.


Album Notes
Nocturnal by Bren Plummer, is a piano trio album of jazz standards led by the bassist himself. This uncommon setup informs the selection of mostly less-common repertoire. It is the first album for Plummer as a leader, in a career that has already stretched some 25 years. At home with the funk, the blues, and in classical orchestras, the jazz idiom is where Bren Plummer was born to be. This recording also features two of Seattle’s great rhythm section players, pianist John Hansen and drummer Reade Whitwell.

This collection of jazz compositions and standards are from the less-commonly heard side of the jazz cannon. Each tune has something in its extra-musical narrative to do with the night, or the night sky, or stars, or space--hence the title, `Nocturnal,' which derives it's name from the seventh track, by the great drummer and composer, Joe Chambers. And why not? Jazz is and has always been music especially for the nighttime hours.

The album opens with the tragic composition by pianist, Bill Evans, Turn Out the Stars. A piece more commonly heard in a slow, forlorn feeling, heard here in a medium-swing tempo. It features some sensitive and swinging piano playing, by John Hansen and engaging interplay by Plummer and the incomparable and strong-eared drummer, Reade Whitwell.

In the Blue of Evening, by Alfred D’Artega and Thomas Adair, is practically unknown to the younger set of jazz listeners unless they are die-hard Dorsey Brothers or Frank Sinatra fans. For the fully-initiated jazz listener, one may delight in the asymmetrical A section’s 20-bar phrases, and Whitwell’s expertly navigated trading later in the track. On the rare occasions the tune is performed, it is invariably in 4/4 while here it is played in 3/4 as a waltz at such a clip that professional dancers may wish to watch their ankles.

The classic Miles Davis composition, Take Off, from his 1956 10” release Miles Davis vol. 2, is arranged here by Plummer. It features the straight ahead stylings of the trio and pays homage to the common practice period of Jazz in the post-bebop era. Here, John Hansen leads the track with swinging aplomb, Plummer lays out a fine bebop inspired solo and Whitwell energetically trades with great expertise over deceptively asymmetrical phrase lengths.

Rounding out the first half of the set is the tune, The Star-Crossed Lovers, by Billy Strayhorn and Duke Ellington. In the Ellington Orchestra, this was a feature of the venerable Johnny Hodges. Here, it is performed arco on the bass by the album’s leader, Bren Plummer. This composition is often seen as a counterpart to Strayhorn’s more popular composition, Lush Life, and a precursor to Charles Mingus’ Duke Ellington’s Sound of Love. Plummer, here gives a nod to these great composers as well as his indebtedness to the bass playing of Mingus, an early and lasting influence.

Lee Morgan’s romping Boy, What a Night!, breaks the mood of the previous track, and offers a nostalgic look back at a great evening. A cross between uptempo swing and a classic slow blues, it definitely gets one’s toes tapping and sets the table for the next track, Stars Fell on Alabama, by Mitchell Parish and Frank Perkins, another bass feature, this time with the melody performed pizzicato.

The seventh track of the set, Nocturnal, by Joe Chambers, is a departure from the various moods of the previous tracks. Again featuring Plummer with the bow, this moody composition was originally intended as a flute feature as heard on Bobby Hutchinson’s Patterns, performed by James Spaulding on flute. This tranquil performance explores the far reaches of the double bass and features the sensitive and sometimes abstract accompaniment from the drums by Whitwell.

Closing out the set is the popular standard, The Night We Called it a Day, composed by Thomas Adair and Matt Dennis. The longest track on the album is performed by Reade Whitwell on the drums throughout with sticks. Normally, a drummer would opt for brushes on a slow jazz ballad. Here Whitwell opts otherwise to astounding affect. This track haunts the listener beautifully, and features full expressive solos from both Hansen and Plummer.



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