It’s been a while since I’ve brought up the subject of bassists-as-leaders in the world of contemporary jazz, but I’m seriously pondering it again, the idea that a bass player focuses on foundation and structure in arrangements and composition and, ultimately, the performances. I’m pondering this once more because I’m seriously thinking about pulling the trigger on that new Mingus Ah Um remaster from MoFi–oops, too late–and I’ve been listening to David Finck and his new album BASSic Instinct.
David Finck makes the right choice on this album, creating vivid–and flexible–structures for his fellow performers. Much of BASSic Instinct involves an exuberant style of jazz, with subtle yet multiple bonds with several types of Latin jazz. The revolving cast of ensemble players allow Finck to adjust the arrangements, which leads to a “we can play anything” vibe that is so predominant in contemporary jazz these days.
What makes BASSic Instinct far more rewarding over multiple listens is David Finck and his bass. Finck often keeps it low while so many others today rely on percussive touches. Sure, he can pluck and bend with the best, but the fundamental low frequencies he creates are essential to the tight, propulsive sound that leaps out from his fingertips. It’s not flashy, but you hear every one of David Finck’s notes. When his fingers start moving quickly, that grace is maintained perfectly.
That’s some deep digging, I know. BASSic Instinct is also jazz that is light and energizing, which is why Latin music is so popular right now. David Finck is here to entertain with fun choices, such as the theme to Mannix or a surprising version of “Tea for Two,” where the bass supplies that familiar melody before a stunning series of improvisations. But this is also another album that morphs upon repeated listens, almost to the point where I feel like I’m listening to the first time, every time.