Jazz Improv Review of He Who Lives In Many Places by John Cizik
Fresh off a stint conducting the Moscow Philharmonic…not
exactly the way you’d think a review of a jazz CD would begin is it? But after
releasing three Tchaikovsky symphonies with that group, bassist Terry Plumeri
dug into his archives and pulled out He Who Lives in Many Places, his jazz
debut recorded in 1971 and released on vinyl in 1976. Plumeri is not only a
classically trained conductor and musician, he has also written the scores to
over fifty films, and is an accomplished photographer.
There are many things that stand out about this disc of
Plumeri originals, first among them the outstanding supporting cast. Herbie
Hancock is on piano and Fender Rhodes, and John Abercrombie, only four years
past his Berklee graduation, plays guitar. According to Plumeri’s very
informative website, it is a “rare appearance” of the two together. Eric
Gravatt, who was drumming with Weather Report at the time, adds percussion in
support of drummer Michael Smith.
Another interesting ingredient on the CD is Plumeri’s use of
the Arco bass. It is used here to create some intriguing sonic textures.
Plumeri’s classical training shows in his proficiency with the bow, which he
uses beautifully. The title cut, in fact, could be labeled a classical piece.
Hancock shows his rarely used classical chops, while Plumeri’s bowed bass
sometimes sounds like a violin or cello. “Underwater” is a great example of the
arco bass used with effects. An insistent hi-hat beat from Michael Smith begins
the tune, which actually sounds like it could have been recorded under water.
Trebles are muted I favor of heavy bass, except for the light tinkling of the
upper registers of the Rhodes. Abercrombie and Plumeri share the lead duties,
while the rest of the quintet fills in. Gravatt uses a wide variety of
percussion instruments in this free form, peaceful tune.
On “Timeworn”, the third of five tracks on the album,
Plumeri plays a more traditional role, laying down a nice bass line while
Abercrombie and Hancock trade off each other. This song is a little “spacey”,
with some interesting processing effects, and just random noises thrown in here
and there. Abercrombie has a nice solo with a judiciously used wah-wah pedal.
“Dayspring America” continues in the ethereal vein of the previous track, with
a slightly stronger role for the late Michael Smith, the drummer whose memory
this CD is dedicated to. Plumeri’s bass thumps out the tempo early on, before
picking up the bow to solo later on. Listen through your headphones – you’ll
hear voices, horses galloping…a very entertaining experience!
“Bees” closes the set, with Abercrombie and Plumeri again
taking the melody. The guitar/bowed bass combination is a great sound – the
upper registers of the bowed bass sounding somewhat like Pat Metheny does on a
guitar synth. This track is a bit more frenetic that the others on the CD, and
it really gets buzzing (pun intended!) by the end.
About mid-tune, the bass starts walking quickly, and Hancock
takes a wonderful Rhodes solo. At this point, the group has broken out of the free
and easy form they’ve followed for most of the recording, and are into
straight-ahead swing. Smith’s drumming stands out again here Abercrombie has a
chorus of his own, and he and the bandleader get the hive all worked up to
finish the tune.
More than just a CD re-lease, this album is a piece of jazz
history. Terry Plumeri’s jazz debut should be a part of your library.
John Cizik - Jazz Improv Magazine