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Adam Lane Quartet: Fo(u)r Being(s)

An unsolicited tape sent to producer Bob Rusch earned bassist/composer Adam Lane two Cadence recordings and a standing invitation to record for Rusch’s other label, CIMP. With the invitation, Rusch also offered Lane a suggestion-that he bring a small group to the studio, a band that would expose his bass playing in a way that his previous large ensemble recordings did not. If giving Lane’s bass playing some air was the primary goal for this session, Rusch and Lane have met that and then some.

On Fo(u)r Being(s), Lane emerges as a strong bassist/leader loosely in the Charles Mingus mode, and it starts with the compositions. Here, Lane favors postbop tunes with space for free improv and well-integrated doses of the blues. He drives his likable tunes from the back with a huge sound and a highly effective, uncluttered style, which not only draws from the blues but also-especially when soloing-from funk and rock. (Lane lists Bootsy Collins and Mike Watt’s punk-rock band, the Minutemen, among his long list of influences.)

Considering the band Lane put together for this date of long, blow-friendly tunes, leading from the rear with confidence couldn’t have been easy; the Fo(u)r Being(s) quartet includes three established leaders as sidemen, all players who have cemented a place for themselves in jazz history. All three buy into the band, however. Drummer Barry Altschul sounds great alongside Lane, and saxophonist John Tchicai’s dry, Ayler-influenced playing contrasts nicely with Paul Smoker’s mirthful swing-to-freeform contributions on trumpet. Tchicai, still feeling his recent association with poet Yusef Komunyakaa, expresses his good feelings for the session by dropping an associative rap about his bandmates on the recording’s final number, “The Band Is.” After a solid showing on the previous tunes the band has clearly earned this, and Tchicai’s charm makes it work.

Originally Published