The surge of recognition that the Los Angeles jazz scene has received in recent years has been both gratifying and frustrating, as far too many stories make it sound like Kamasi Washington, Thundercat, Miles Mosley and Cameron Graves, et al. appeared suddenly out of thin air. Few musicians have done more to cultivate the L.A. scene over the past four decades than vocalist Dwight Trible, and his new album Mothership serves as a treasure map to the missing pieces behind the tale of the Southland resurgence.
Drawing from the spiritually charged universe of Pharoah Sanders and the politically radical realm of the late great pianist/composer Horace Tapscott, Trible imbues a fascinating program of songs with celestial soul. His warm, pliable baritone can soar into a high tenor territory, and rumble with chesty authority. From the opening title track by Tapscott and Linda Hill and “Mother” by pianist Nate Morgan and poet Kamau Daood to Oscar Brown Jr.’s “Brother Where Are You?” and bassist James Leary’s “Song for My Mother,” Trible is preoccupied with the joys and sorrows that come with kith and kin.
Informing every note he sings is a numinous presence; Trible’s eye is always on the sparrow, seeking and celebrating the Creator, as on his glorious version of Donny Hathaway’s “Thank You Master.” He’s joined by a highly sympathetic multi-generational cast including Kamasi Washington and violist Miguel Atwood-Ferguson, rising pianist Mark de Clive-Lowe, and veteran bassist John B. Williams, sounding forceful and engaged. The album concludes with two of its best tracks, as Trible turns on the charm with Carmen Lundy’s emerging standard “These Things You Are to Me” and delivers an ache-filled “Some Other Time” that brings to mind Andy Bey, a master who also spent decades as an underground force before gaining due recognition.