Become a member and get exclusive access to articles, live sessions and more!
Start Your Free Trial

This is the 1st of your 3 free articles

Become a member for unlimited website access and more.

FREE TRIAL Available!

Learn More

Already a member? Sign in to continue reading

Michael Bates: Acrobat: Music For, And By, Dmitri Shostakovich

JazzTimes may earn a small commission if you buy something using one of the retail links in our articles. JazzTimes does not accept money for any editorial recommendations. Read more about our policy here. Thanks for supporting JazzTimes.

Canadian bassist Michael Bates uses “Dance of Death,” an oddly dissonant piece by Dmitri Shostakovich, as a springboard into eight exploratory originals that allude to various melodies by the 20th-century Russian composer. Saxophonist-clarinetist Chris Speed, trumpeter Russ Johnson, pianist Russ Lossing and the wonderfully elastic drummer Tom Rainey bring these provocative pieces to life with their telepathic dynamic and sparkling improvisations. On “Talking Bird,” Speed’s clarinet and Johnson’s muted trumpet form a brooding alliance against Bates’ oom-pah bass ostinato and Rainey’s supple brushwork. “Strong Arm” carries an urgent free-boppish edge in bristling solos from Speed’s tenor, Johnson’s trumpet and Lossing on distortion-laced electric piano. The dark, spacey rubato number “Silent Witness” alludes more to Bitches Brew-era Miles than to Shostakovich, though Bates’ arco work on the counterpoint showcase “Arcangela” is clearly a nod to the maestro.

Originally Published