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July/August 2006

John Bishop
Nothing If Not Something
Origin Records

On this adventurous, open-ended trio outing, the Seattle-based drummer and founder of Origin Records forges an extraordinary, freewheeling chemistry with kindred spirits Jeff Johnson on bass and Rick Mandyck on alto sax. A ubiquitous figure on the Northwest jazz scene, Bishop’s first recording under his own name runs the gamut of dynamics from a spacious, hymnlike cover of Curtis Lundy’s “Orange Blossom,” underscored by Bishop’s ultrasensitive brushwork, to an off-kilter funk number, Johnson’s “Hurt Brothers,” fueled by the drummer’s insistent, slamming backbeats.

The highly interactive nature of the trio is showcased on Mandyck’s reflective “Anata Wa Utsukushi,” on which Bishop resorts to gentle mallet work, and on a sparse, lightly swinging cover of Ralph Peterson’s lyrical “Lady In Black,” which beautifully highlights Mandyck’s gorgeous, buttery tone and his ease in the high register.

Mandyck, the principal composer here, also exhibits a capacity to burn on his raucous “All Day Pass” and the rubato, ECM-ish “Taking Forever,” full of shimmering cymbal work by Bishop. Mandyck also conjures up some poignant moments on his affecting waltz-time number “Lost & Found,” which is again supported by Bishop’s gentle touch and understated sense of swing. Bassist Johnson, an imposing, deep-toned presence throughout and a remarkable soloist to boot, receives a special showcase on “Gone,” his Zenlike duet with Mandyck.

Originally published in July/August 2006
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