MIKE POPE, a virtuoso acoustic and electric bassist, is releasing a new CD, Cold Truth, Warm Heart, to which he contributes as a musician, composer and engineer. In this album, his first in a decade, Pope builds significant musical, personal and spiritual bridges between the past, present and future. The ensemble includes Seamus Blake (tenor sax), Joe Locke (vibes), Geoffrey Keezer (piano & Rhodes), and Mauricio Zottarelli (drums), with pianist Alan Blackman on one track.
Says Pope, “[The music] was written for the players who were playing it.” He establishes the subject matter, directs the conversation, and then leaves plenty of space for these world-class improvisers to do what they do. The result is jazz with rich melodies, lush chords, and sensual rhythms. The new album shows Pope to be a visionary composer, arranger and bandleader and establishes a new threshold of leadership for this outstanding musician.
Mike Pope has logged thousands of miles touring many continents with the likes of Chick Corea, David Sanborn, and Bill Bruford. John Patitucci, a Grammy-award winning bassist, writes, “Mike Pope is a real Renaissance man. He is a musician of broad scope and tremendous talent, his virtuosity … is rare even by today’s standards.” The Ottawa Citizen praises his “jaw-dropping exuberance and precision,” while a review on All About Jazz says, “Pope’s electric bass work can serve as a grounding force, a melodic instrument, textural element, or impressive solo voice.” Bass legend Victor Wooten writes, “If I were going to study improvisation at this point, I’d do it with Mike Pope.”
Pope was raised in the college town of Bowling Green, Ohio by parents who were classical musicians and educator. At the University of North Texas, Pope encountered legendary saxophonist Michael Brecker, who suggested that he move to New York City. The young bassist was soon playing with Brecker, as well as Blood Sweat and Tears, The Gil Evans Orchestra, Manhattan Transfer, and countless other jazz stars.
Pope’s 2002 album, The Lay of the Land, delivered contemporary straight-ahead jazz with help from Michael Brecker and other stellar players, including Randy Brecker, John Patitucci, Jeff ”Tain” Watts. About this album, All About Jazz wrote that it was “certainly one of the most exciting new albums this reviewer has heard in a long time.” Although the album was warmly received, tours with other ensembles took up the bulk of Pope’s time.
In the winter of 2011, Pope, although a vigorous young man, suffered a stroke. While his health has since returned, the experience was life altering, and he arrived at a greater appreciation of the value of family, friends, and music. He returned to Maryland and started a family, which now includes two children. These life events are reflected in his latest album.
Mike Pope’s touring band, the House of Cardinals, includes four phenomenal musicians: vibraphonist Joe Locke, Brazilian drummer Mauricio Zottarelli, Russian pianist Eldar Djangirov, and tenor saxophonist Bob Franceschini. In 2014, the group will be appearing June 4 at Blues Alley in Washington, D.C., June 6 at An die Musik Live in Baltimore, and June 10 at the Regattabar in Cambridge.
For more about Mike Pope, visit www.mikepopejazz.com