The Washington Post Review of Water Garden by Richard Harrington
Terry Plumeri's Water Garden
Plumeri is one of the most highly
regarded young bass players in America: He is equally at home with jazz
and classical bass and frequently performs with the National Symphony.
fact, the National Symphony String Quartet is featured on this album,
along with nationally recognized guitarists John Abercrombie and Ralph
Towner and Plumeri's constant local companions, drummer Mike Smith and
pianist Marc Cohen.
There are two things that allow "Water Garden" to
rise head and shoulders above most other recent jazz offerings. The
most immediate is the sterling quality of the recording (done at Bias
in Falls Church), with immaculate attention paid to highs and lows and
featuring a clearly empathetic mix. It is a quality equivalent to
Manfred Eicher's work at ECM; Bill McElroy's engineering, already
highly praised in local music circles, has never been better.
second distinctive quality in Plumeri's work is his obvious dedication
to composition. With exceptions like Ellington and Mingus, most
composers working in the jazz idiom do little more than delineate
melodies or sets of changes, leaving the hard work to capable soloists.
Plumeri is more intense and in control; he builds carefully, leaving
some breathing room but always certain of his voicings and shadings,
always definite in his intentions.
For example, "Bornless One,"
the opening composition, is built upon Micheal Smith's marvelously
fluid and rhythmic kalimba, an African thumb piano. Behind this
celebration, Plumeri and Cohen set down sparse, mostly percussive,
rather than melodic, statements. In addition, Plumeri's wordless
vocals, mixed way back, give the piece an eerie, ghostly effect, it is
a stunning cut one that a listener is drawn back to time and time again.
several numbers, including the title cut, Plumeri accents his
bowed-bass technique, eloquent in establishing a plaintive or
contemplative mood. "Water Garden moves from a tightly defined structure to
some spirited free playing and eventually into a straightahead jazz
mode, complete with walking bass line. "Laura Rose," which could almost
be a sound track, plays the ethereal acoustic guitar of Ralph Towner
against John Abercrombie's electric, but unusual subtle voicings.
both as a composer and player, never overextends his abilities or
overpowers with mere technique. The constantly empathetic work of his
players - all of whom obviously understand his intentions - leads to a
very high level of music all around.