When Miles Davis died in 1991, many of his supporters asserted that the trumpeter's influence wouldn't be going away anytime soon. That was no lie; from straight-ahead bop to electric fusion, Davis' work was still influencing countless jazzmen when the 21st century arrived, including Peter Barshay. Davis certainly isn't Barshay's only influence as a writer, but he is a prominent one on Pit of Fashion, the bassist's first album as a leader. Barshay obviously admires different periods of Davis' career -- not only the trumpeter's acoustic post-bop period of the 1960s, but also his electric fusion and jazz-funk experimentation of the 1970s and 1980s. Parts of this CD (which features such talent as guitarist Mike Stern, pianist Billy Childs, and saxman Bob Sheppard) are essentially straight-ahead post-bop, and parts of it favor more of a groove-oriented jazz-funk approach. The interesting thing is that Barshay sticks to the acoustic bass whether he's being funky or straight-ahead. Other bassists compartmentalize, reserving the upright bass for bop and post-bop and switching to the electric bass for fusion, funk-jazz, and crossover. But Barshay sees no reason why the acoustic bass always has to be used in a traditional way -- he realizes that it is compatible with a backbeat as well as a bop beat and can easily handle some of your funkier offerings. Pit of Fashion contains a few songs that Barshay didn't write, including Davis' "Stuff," Victor Feldman's "Joshua," and the standard "What Is This Thing Called Love." But the bassist does most of the writing himself on this appealing and fairly unpredictable CD.
AllMusic Review by Alex Henderson