Jay Anderson’s “Deepscape” finds a leader reclaiming his place

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Bassist Jay Anderson is a veteran performer. Anderson is not just a musician – – he is a band leader. With almost three decades between Anderson’s early albums and “Deepscape,” the musician proves that tenacity and talent can go a long way.

For “Deepscape,” Anderson leads an ensemble of five players. In the past he has worked in performance groups of various sizes, including duos. Anderson’s talent and approach to music-making has helped him to make a reputation for himself.

About Jay Anderson

Anderson is a native of Southern California; he began playing bass when he was 12 years old. However, it was in college at California State University at Long Beach that Anderson began to earn the reputation that he currently has. One week after graduation, Anderson joined the Woody Herman Big Band for one year. That led to his accompanying singer Carmen McRea. In 1982, Anderson moved to New York. He has since amassed more than 400 recording credits. The list of musical luminaries that Anderson has worked with is a thick paragraph long. Among the many are Chaka Khan, Billy Joel, Frank Zappa, David Bowie, Allen Ginsburg (Beat poet) and Celine Dion. Now, Anderson is back with his first recording as a leader since the early 1990s.

┬áThe sound of “Deepscape” by Jay Anderson

The album is a mix of originals and cover tunes. The sound is created by the inclusion of a couple of interesting instruments, in addition to the usual ones listeners expect on a jazz album.

The players on this album include Anderson on bass and Tibetan singing bowl, Billy Drewes on alto and soprano saxophone and bass clarinet, Kirk Knuffke on cornet, Matt Wilson on drums, Frank Kimbrough on harmonium and Rogerio Boccato on percussion.

The title track opens with a deep, probing collection of sounds – – from the bass accents, to the harmonium and Tibetan singing bowl, the sound clears the mind and pulls listeners in. The slow, heavy mosaic of sound evokes dark colors of the universe. It is a brief song, which is a bit of a disappointment. Or, that is the art of the song. As soon as listeners get used to the pattern, feel and sound of it, the album has progressed to the next track. The sounds that open the song remain throughout, with slight variation. The artfulness of the song is one of the selling points of the album.

“Southern Smiles,” a Keith Jarrett tune, is a hearty mix of horns and an almost experimental flavor. The bass gets a thunderous workout, and the percussion is energetic. Instead of most songs that place some instruments in the background, and others in the foreground, here, all of the instrumentation sound pushed to the fore, but not in a messy way. The cornet showcase is an unexpected touch. The woodwinds sound like brass as they play a jaunty motif that audiences can count on to orient them. Toward the end, the sounds begin to “spread” out, and for a moment, it is as if each music group takes a turn, instead of trying to play together. An example of contemporary jazz that is worth studying and listening to over and over.

With a running time of just longer than an hour, “Deepscape” is a thought-provoking album. Anderson and his ensemble members take risks that pay off. “Deepscape” will be available April 15, 2019 from Amazon, CDBaby and iTunes.

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Dodie Miller-Gould is a native of Fort Wayne, Indiana who lives in New York City where she studies creative nonfiction at Columbia University. She has BA and MA degrees in English from Indiana University-Purdue University, Fort Wayne, and an MFA in Fiction from Minnesota State University, Mankato. Her research interests include popular music and culture, 1920s jazz, and blues, confessional poetry, and the rhetoric of fiction. She has presented at numerous conferences in rhetoric and composition, and creative writing. Her creative works have appeared in Tenth Muse, Apostrophe, The Flying Island, Scavenger's Newsletter and elsewhere. She has won university-based awards for creative work and literary criticism.

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