Mark Wade Trio ‘Event Horizon’ CD (Edition 46) 4/5

mark-wadeUS bassist Mark Wade triumphs with his debut album “Event Horizon” – 9 tracks of pure elegant and innovative jazz.
The album is now available worldwide having been released in the US last year. 8 out of the 9 tracks on the album are Wade’s compositions, with the last one “If I only had a brain” (as written by Harold Arlen for the 1939 film “The Wizard of Oz”).
Wade says (on his press release) that he has always been interested in piano trios. These consisting of just 3 musicians represent a challenge for Wade as he is then pushed to play music that sounds big and means big, just like an orchestra of 20 people!
I concur. Wade’s tracks are immersed in originality and complexity. The opening one, for example, “Jump for Joy” has a melodic tone to it, a ballad-like one, but stays true to its aim: it makes the listener listen!
British-born (Nottingham to be precise) pianist Tim Harrison is a skilled craftsman on what becomes not just a pianoforte, but a means to illustrate stories and moods. Listen attentively to Harrison on the beautiful “Valley and Stream”. Moving to the core, one of the trio’s best tracks.
Although Wade admits his interest in science is a mere casual hobby, his choice of the album title is fundamental, an event horizon is to do with black holes, it is the point of “no return”… when it is literally too late to go back and the black void of the hole has captured one. Back to the music, “Event Horizon” is just this, a powerful vortex full of talent and musicality where one cannot escape, but is pulled into.

“Twist in the Wind” is forceful and fast-paced, showing off drummer Scott Neumann. A slick and energizing drumming tour de force.

Wade tells me in conversation that “some of the songs on the record I wrote before I knew that I was going to work with Tim and Scott. As we began to work together, the compositions I wrote began to take into consideration their style of play, their strengths, and the identity that began to emerge with this trio. The new material that I am writing for the next album is with this trio in mind and will build on the sounds and concepts that we developed thus far. My concept for the trio was always for it to be a three-way conversation, and my writing hopefully reflects this. In general, as a composer, I’ve always been interested in exploring unique forms for a small ensemble, like a piano trio, as opposed to a large ensemble like a big band. A large ensemble will put more colours readily at the composer’s disposal, but there is unique freedom available with a small group that is particularly of interest to me”. This is in full evidence on “Cold Spring”, for example, impeccably dark, nuanced with a blue tint perfect for Wade’s bass style.

I also asked Wade whether he is classically trained, he answers that mine is an interesting question as he did not start playing the double bass until his second year of college. That is obviously much later than most people begin their studies, he says. “I didn’t begin playing classical music until I was on my way out of the University. I began playing in amateur groups as a way to improve my overall technique on the instrument. I fell in love with the music and decided that it was something I had to participate in. After many hours of practice, this hobby turned into a part-time career and eventually became part of my performing practice as a professional musician. I currently play with a number of classical freelance groups in the New York City area. I am certainly influenced by classical music in my writing choices as a jazz composer. In fact, I am planning to record an album of classical compositions arranged and reduced for a jazz piano trio. I already have about half of the material written. The album will include big works such as the Goreki 3rd symphony, the Sibelius Violin Concerto, and several others. I think it is a wonderful challenge as a composer and arranger”.

This writer is certainly looking forward to listening to the new project. A classical and jazz mélange of creativity!

In the meantime, let’s listen and enjoy “Event Horizon”, the debut album par excellence!

Erminia Yardley