Harvie S

Cocolamus Bridge

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The bass is a difficult instrument to lead an ensemble with. It takes an especially strong compositional hand, and often an especially strong personal style, in order to bring the deep sounds out from behind the usual melodic instruments. Harvie S opens his album with a bit of both, arranging a traditional Irish ballad for solo bass and bowing for a fair portion of the track, evoking some of the cello passages from Yo-Yo Ma's Appalachian collaborations with Joshua Bell and Edgar Meyer. As the album progresses, Harvie works to expand his array of sounds, delving largely into the territory of light jazz -- serene pieces in combination with adept piano, relaxed guitar, and the occasional breathy, crooning sax passage. This is morning drive-time jazz, then, enveloping the listener with a bit of warmth, and using the deep, woody sound of the bass as a focal point. At times, however, as in "Courage," the bass starts to disappear behind the sax, behind the piano, and even occasionally behind the rhythm section in general. It's always there, always holding up the rhythm for the rest of the band, but dissipates into the ether unless one deliberately listens for it. In most jazz, this might not be an issue -- the key is a strong composition after all, not specifically the preeminence of the bass -- but after a few splashy moments in front for the bass, the listener is left wanting more, wondering where the new focus went. To his credit, Harvie reappears every time he disappears, providing able solos if he isn't staying up front. It just isn't always enough to stand out from the crowd of contemporary jazz players.

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