Richard Kamins - Step Tempest
Feb 27. 2020
Feb 27th, 2020
Leading From The Bass
Bassist and composer Dan Loomis (Wee Trio, Joel Frahm Trio) has a story to tell that's a Biblical tale of an old adage "Why do bad things happen to good people?" The bassist, who is one of the more melodic players on the contemporary scene, retells the story of Job, a righteous man, wealthy, with a big family, who is put to the test by an angel (in the Hebrew Bible, it's an angel while in the New Testament, it's Satan). Job loses everything but, despite the severity of his losses, never gives up his faith. In the Old Testament, he does not confront God but, in the New Testament, Job gets an audience with God to whom he reiterates his unbroken faith. His wealth is returned, he creates a new family, and lives a long life. The Old Testament is filled with stories such as this where a mortal's faith is tested (Abraham's binding of Isaac, Moses and the Israelites in Egypt and wandering through the desert).
Loomis has taken the true believer's story and created "Job's Trial: A Jazz Song Cycle" (self-released). To tell the story, the bassist has assembled a group that includes the voices of Yoon Sun Choi and Song Yi Jeon, guitarist Jeff Miles, drummer (and close friend) Jared Schonig plus narrator Daniel Breaker ("Shrek: The Musical" and "Hamilton"). Breaker's delightful voice (deep and sonorous, filled with humor and wonder) is heard telling the story during the various "Interludes" (the 7 tracks all have titles) while the full songs have the vocalists singing Biblical text plus wordless improvisations. The music ranges from the bouncy "Abundance Overture" to the sweet then raucous "Naked Turn" to the dissonant blues of "Blood Groove" and on to the sweet prayer "Dear Lord" that closes the story and the album.
Everyone plays his or her role with relish and joy. Miles's guitar often creates great swells and harsh sounds while the elasticity of the vocalists not only illuminate the words but also serve as counterpoints to the instrumentals (on "Words Without Knowledge", the voices bring to mind the expansive vocals of Fay Victor). There is drama and excitement in this music that often comes from Schonig's expressive drum work. Loomis is such an expressive and melodic bassist; his solos stand out plus his interaction with Miles beneath Breaker's narration is playful.
You do not need to be religious to enjoy "Job's Trials." Listen with an open mind and open ears. Dan Loomis looks for the truth in this story and translates it in ways we can appreciate, so pay attention!