Moving Day for Mark Wade

Social media can be very useful for making new connections as it was for me with bass player Mark Wade. Mark contacted me to ask if I’d like to consider playing his latest release on the show I co-present, Sounds Like Jazz, I replied that I should like to consider both playing and reviewing the album. Within minutes a copy dropped in to my inbox, within days it was played on the show and now you are reading the review.

Bass player Mark Wade

Mark Wade was, until very recently, a completely unknown name to me but I now know that he was born in Lavonia, Michigan but went to college at New York University. He graduated some twenty years ago and since doing so has been working freelance in variety of jazz, classical and pop gigs as a side man. Moving Day is the follow up album to his debut release Event Horizon in 2015. His trio includes Tim Harrison on piano and Scott Neumann on drums.

The album opens with the title track which, according to the liner notes, “is an attempt to capture the complex feeling of moving [house]”. The track works very well and ebbs and flows beautifully. The individual musical strengths of each member of the trio are played to throughout the tune – as they are across the entire album – and it would be difficult to identify the band leader if it were not for the fact the trio is named after the bassist.

Nine compositions make up Moving Day, seven by Mark Wade, one by Joseph Kosma and the other by Dizzy Gillespie, both arranged by Mark. The Joseph Kosma tune is Autumn Leaves, a wonderful tune that has been covered by so many jazz players but Mark blends it with Herbie Hancock’s Maiden Voyage to great effect. Gillespie’s A Night in Tunisia becomes Another Night in Tunisia with some terrific piano playing from Tim Harrison. Both these tunes sound familiar and fresh at the same time, which can’t be an easy thing to accomplish with two very popular jazz standards.

The album

So of the seven Mark Wade composed tracks which are the ones that stand out? This is, for me, both a difficult question to answer and one of the reasons that the albums succeeds so well as a complete work. Each tune is effective in its own right, each has its own story to tell, and each plays its part in in a very well put together album that works as a whole.

Something of a Romance has an ethereal quality about it with a tinge of excitement about the possibilities of a new relationship. Whereas The Quarter has a very different atmosphere about it, one of a party atmosphere with drummer Scott Neumann evoking the marching bands of New Orleans.

The Bells is, apparently, “inspired by the French impressionists like Debussy and Ravel” and, in part, a theme that is an adaptation of an English horn part from Debussy’s La Mer. Unfortunately, I am not familiar enough with classical music to pass comment on how much this comes through in the tune but the inspiration of the chiming church bells of Nice is definitely there to be heard: and what a wonderful sound this track makes.

Wide Open has a section that highlights what a very good bass player Mark Wade is as well as being a very strong composition that, again, shows how good this trio are as a unit. The final track of the album is Fading Rays of Sunlight and a very fitting tune on which to end the album. Mark Wade has written something quite exquisite for pianist Tim Harrison to allow the listener to hear why he is an integral part of this very good trio.

I realize these days a lot of people buy tracks individually and may not even hear the entire record, but I still think that presenting your music in a specific order to create an overall musical impression is a lost art. I spent a lot of time thinking about the order of these songs, so for those who will listen to the album in its entirety, I hope that I have helped create a certain musical impact with that selection.

Mark Wade, jazz bassist: Something Else! Interview
By Preston Frazier

The time Mark Wade gave to considering how this album should be presented is time very well spent. Moving Day is a well constructed, well written, well played album that has a musical impact and I for one am keen to hear more from this artist and trio.


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