There are, after all, many ways to make an uplifting Jazz album, but one that manages to convey its deeply personal sources of inspiration, while at the same time welcoming the listener into the music is surely one of the most satisfying. So it is with this recording, Floating Holiday by bassist Frank Wagner – bassist for Eugene Marlow’s Heritage Ensemble. Mr Wagner shows up here with his trio offering a set of pieces inspired by real-world ideas, people – especially heroes – and situations, but also infused with the kind of heady imagination that transforms their resonances into a series of vivacious musical adventures. You almost don’t want the music to stop and the record to end; it’s that alluring.
These seven original tunes reference all manner of sources without any sense of contrivance, traversing Ellingtonian swing, homespun pastoralism, a jittery quasi-baroque adventure, infectious modal grooves and many other territories with natural ease on the part of Mr Wagner as well as pianist Marco Di Gennaro and drummer David Meade. Mr Wagner is on point at all times with his deep and deliciously round notes. His playing is simple and lyrical, abstract and profound. His magnificent tone gives every note the purity of song, resembling, in some way, the beauty of Charlie Haden, presumably the mentor who is celebrated in “One for Charlie”.
The music also springs enough good-natured surprises on the listener to dismiss the notion that such virtuosity breeds complacency. Interactions are always inspired especially in the tantalising reflections and refractions of “Mirror” and in the intimate, restrained, reflective, introspective and deceptively simple melodies elsewhere throughout this recording. Each melody is so thoughtful; so thoroughly and sensitively created that you would hardly guess they weren’t devised there and then. The recorded sound is also expertly shaped around the trio and the excellent solos.
Track list – 1: Floating Holiday; 2: Mirror; 3: Solution; 4: Switch Partners; 5: One for Charlie; 6: Progress Notes; 7: Memory
Personnel – Frank Wagner: contrabass, compositions and arrangements; Marco Di Gennaro: piano; David Meade: drums and percussion
Released – 2018
Label – MEII Enterprises
Runtime – 42:38