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Scott Colley: The Magic Line

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In the last few years Scott Colley has become one of New York’s most desired bassists, offering superb, expertly restrained support to combos led by the likes of Herbie Hancock, Andrew Hill and Greg Osby, among others. While eight of the 11 compositions on his latest trio album are originals, Colley’s performance remains focused on an ensemble approach; there’s no showboating to be found on The Magic Line. Rather, his huge, deep and woody tone is an equal partner with the reeds of Chris Potter and the percussion of Bill Stewart.

From the keening, sorrowful melody of the Ornetteish title ballad to the off-kilter funk of “Take It and Like It,” Colley consistently delivers imperturbable grooves with a faultless sense of time and a predilection for punctuating things with gut-rumbling double stops. Although Potter’s gifts as a melodist deliver a beguiling focal point-from the ominous bass clarinet tiptoeing on “Metropolis” to the gorgeous altissimo-streaked tenor on the ballad “Soul Gravity”-the album’s real center is the dazzling array of rhythmic schemes inside the post-bop setting. With each player tag-teaming polyrhythms in every piece as fluidly as they shift from foreground to background, the music is in constant motion; the turning gears on the cover art provide an apt metaphor for the group’s interconnectivity. It’s not an explosive album, but its measured density is never lacking profundity.