Tom Warrington

Back Nine

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Acoustic standup bassist Tom Warrington's second album as a leader, Back Nine is all West Coast cool in the classic '50s style. The trio format is filled out with drummer Joe La Barbera (a fixture of Bill Evans' late-era combos) and guitarist Larry Koonse, whose clean, largely effects-free playing recalls Wes Montgomery's early work. Koonse particularly shines on his two originals, "Labyrinth" and the lovely ballad "Light and Shadow," but he's at the forefront of all nine tracks; unlike the majority of bassists in the post-Jaco Pastorius era, Warrington is not a frustrated soloist angling for a melodic showcase. His rare solos are brief, concise, and nearly as groove-oriented as his rhythm playing. Similarly, La Barbera never overplays, his light, swinging touch particularly notable on the trio's take on the Miles Davis standard "Nardis," on which La Barbera's solo passages are only slightly more flashy than his standard beats. Low-key but never boring, Back Nine is as old-school as West Coast jazz currently gets.

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