Terry Plumeri | Water Garden

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Water Garden

by Terry Plumeri

On the "Best Releases of 2009" list of Allaboutjazz.com A special blend of Jazz, classical and ethnic flavors featuring Terry Plumeri Bass, John Abercrombie electric guitar, Ralph Towner acoustic guitar, Marc Copeland piano and Michael Smith drums.
Genre: Jazz: Modern Creative Jazz
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  Song Share Time Download
1. Bornless One
6:00 $1.59
2. Ongoing
9:30 $1.59
3. Gypsy
8:07 $1.59
4. Water Garden
5:15 $1.59
5. Laura Rose
7:05 $1.59
6. Rush Hour
7:34 $1.59
7. Dusk
3:18 $1.59
Downloads are available as MP3-320 files.


Album Notes
Review by John Kelman - Allaboutjazz.com

With the compelling, largely free-blowing 1971 session He Who Lives In Many Places (GMMC Records) finally issued on CD in 2006, Water Garden rights a similar wrong for Terry Plumeri, an overlooked bassist if ever there was one. Recorded five years later, Water Garden was an even more ambitious date that brought back guitarist John Abercrombie and percussionist Michael Smith, but also features enlists Ralph Towner and, in one of his earliest date, pianist Marc Copland.

Plumeri's career has since occupied jazz and classical spheres—both directly and in the personal nexus point between the two. Water Garden is a terrific introduction to Plumeri, whose stunning arco work elevates him above many of jazz's better-known bassists. Plumeri's fine, two-movement suite for string quartet and contrabass closes this 45-minute set on a more overtly classical note, but it's Water Garden's other five compositions that make it such an essential listen. Taking place, as it does, during the height of ECM label's groundbreaking emergence; it similarly expands the purview of jazz into previously uncharted territories. That two of Plumeri's cohorts were ECM artists (then and now) needn't suggest Water Garden would (or should) have had a home on the venerable German label, but its inherent eclecticism and boundary-busting approach would certainly possess similar appeal to its fans.

Smith's kalimba lends "Bornless One" a Gamelan feel, its repetitive nature and pulse also referencing Steve Reich; but with its languid melody and Plumeri's ethereal, overdubbed singing, it's darker in tone. Copland has since emerged as a distinctive pianist with a deeply impressionistic bent; on the strength of his intro to "Ongoing," it's clear that this has been his disposition all along. Opening with Plumeri's arco soaring, fugue-like, over Abercrombie and Copland's contrapuntal parts, "Ongoing" gradually resolves into a vivid, harmonically abstruse piano solo. Abercrombie's modal workout is a highlight amongst highlights as Plumeri proves he can swing with the best of them, before dissolving into a final arco feature for the bassist, this time more lyrically poignant, as he once again ascends in lead-in to the final iteration of the song's contrapuntal core.

"Gypsy" is another hard-swinging modal exercise; Copland's accompaniment nearly supplants Abercrombie's attention-grabbing solo, while Plumeri's arco is even more charismatic. It's revealing to hear the normally more reticent Copland play with such fiery intensity, before Plumeri takes a lithe solo that rivals ex-Weather Report bassist {Miroslav Vitous's strength of tone and conceptual confidence. "Laura Rose" links Water Garden's more improv-centric material with the classicism of "Two Poems for Dance." Combining string quartet with Plumeri, Smith, Abercrombie and Towner on classical guitar, the two guitarists' interaction provides an alternate perspective on their already deep chemistry, heard on their duet record, Sargasso Sea (ECM, 1976).

On the strength of Water Garden, Plumeri is an artist for whom, had the stars aligned differently, greater visibility would have been assured and deserved. As it stands, this long overdue CD release of Water Garden goes some ways towards righting a three decade-old wrong.



to write a review

Jon Drossos

Water Garden
Plumeri's band is rock-solid. His bowing on bass cannot be imitated by anyone. I highly recommend this cd to anyone into exceptional jazz recordings. Plumeri is also a wonderful composer and producer, as well.

Rachel J

A Real Treat To The Ears!
Water Garden is one of the most notable recordings to come out of New York City in the late 1970’s. It showcases the great bowing bassist, Terry Plumeri, displaying the cutting edge of bowed bass solos as well as his initial excursions into the world of symphonic composition. Water Garden is a great example of the intermediate growth of a virtuoso musician, which in recent years has culminated in Terry’s innovative display of dazzling arco technique on the critically acclaimed recording, Blue In Green, as well as his recent recordings of large scale symphonic expression as conductor of The Moscow Philharmonic. Favorite highlights of the album are Michael Smith’s moody lyricism and impeccable technique on kalimba, during the composition Bornless One. The second track, Ongoing, displays a highly original format for jazz improvisation by using a two part counterpoint as the head of the tune, which then travels forward to a progressive interlude which climaxes at the arrival of the guitar solo, dropping the listener into a hard grooving four, complete with walking bass. After the climatic climb, the guitar dissipates into a lyrically dark and vocally soulful, bowed bass solo by Plumeri which slowly weaves it’s way into the return of the opening counterpoint and sets up the final statement of the interlude which soon climaxes on the penultimate chord.

Another favorite of mine is the Abercrombie, Towner duet over the Plumeri composition for two guitars and strings, Laura Rose. The flowing dialog between the electric and acoustic guitar, beautifully supported by Plumeri and Smith, is enough to make one wish there were more tracks to experience of this lovely combination of two guitars over strings and rhythm. Plumeri’s fully written string quintet, Two Poems For Dance, finishes out the album and is a masterful display of motor movement in a modern classical style, expressed through the setting of a double bass augmented string quartet.

In conclusion, Water Garden is certainly one of the most original jazz recordings of the 70’s and shows what very few jazz albums have ever shown, the exterior manifestation and arrival of the voice of the symphonic composer who sometimes lives inside the musical voice of the true improviser…A real treat to the ears if you are someone who appreciates the gift of original voices in jazz.