Bassist Ron McClure has always had an open mind when it comes to playing in different genres and styles. In the late '60s, he was part of the Charles Lloyd quartet, along with Keith Jarrett and Jack DeJohnette, and a member of the Fourth Way, where he replaced Cecil McBee. Both outfits enjoyed success with jazz and rock audiences. During one stretch in the '70s, McClure worked with Thelonious Monk, then Sarah Vaughan, before joining Blood, Sweat and Tears for three years as an arranger, composer, and bassist. McClure's broad outlook continues to inform his more current work. Pink Cloud from 1996 finds McClure's outstanding quartet exploring the bassist's original hard bop, modal, and mainstream themes, and occasionally branching off into ECM-style impressionism. His partners form a cohesive unit that communicates at the highest level. Rick Margitza (tenor and soprano saxophone) has a mastery of the soprano on a par with Wayne Shorter's and Jan Garbarek's. His tone is full, rich, and controlled. Pianist Jon Davis wears his Bill Evans, McCoy Tyner, and Richie Beirach influences proudly. He's incorporated their lessons into a personal sound that fits well with McClure's free-ranging conception. Drummer Jeff Williams is, like McClure, a Dave Liebman alumnus. He is not as free as Paul Motian, but he shares Motian's ability to move the music forward with subtle accents and shifts in the pulse of the basic tempo. McClure's playing has been justifiably compared with the quick, clear, light touch that the late Scott LaFaro brought to prominence as a member of Bill Evans' celebrated trio from 1959 to 1961. Like LaFaro with Evans, McClure's work is key his group's sound. As well, he has long been a writer of thoughtful, dynamic compositions. Eight of his pieces are effectively developed by the quartet on Pink Cloud. The recording on this Naxos release captures the quartet's close-knit, intimate sound very well, as it ranges over McClure's swinging, introspective, atmospheric and straight-ahead modern jazz vistas.
Share this page
AllMusic Review by Jim Todd