You might never guess it just in the listening, but Jamie Ousley's songs are spiritually based, non-denominationally so, and he loves playing his brand of uptempo positive jazz in churches, a small tradition introduced to him by Ira Sullivan, famed bop jazz trumpeter. Ousley wields the double bass and really digs piano, so this gig sees him with Joe Davidian on the keys (Gabriel Saientz on one cut) and Austin McMahon (Carlomagno Araya on two cuts) manning the drums, Nanami Morikawa stepping in for vocals on Shenandoah. Thus, we're talking trio work, with all that means: highly creative input from all members, constant improvising with a rhythmic rapport defying norms, McMahon really standing out in that regard.
A Sea of Voices is a ten-spot of songs often recalling a mixture of the high side of Bob James, Scott Cossu, Bill Evans, Brubeck, hints of Jarrett, some Robert Kraft, and a raft of the cats who glide between styles stretching the foundation of such bop-based nodes as Steam. Davidian, though he could have settled for the easy way out, either completely evades clichés or recrafts them into the smooth flow of oft speedy lines sprinting, cantering, or cakewalking according to mood and innovation—sometimes all within a single passage.
Ousley takes in elements of Barre Phillips and Gary Peacock as adeptly as Ron Carter and Percy Heath, bowing his gargantuan instrument in Shenandoah for that deep cello-esque register the contrabass achieves so well, tracking Morikawa's lines and melismatics, later melancholically intro'ing Coldplay's Swallowed by the Sea the same way. The interplay between him and McMahon is fascinating as they lay the backdrop for Davidian's front work. As with any really good trio work, the complicated dance between self-expression, interplay, and rhythmic obligations is what captures the listener as much as the melodics, and A Sea of Voices is an ocean of engrossing and uplifting compositions in that respect.
Edited by: David N. Pyles
Copyright 2012, Peterborough Folk Music Society.
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