John Patitucci
  • courtesy of the artist
  • John Patitucci

Back in the early 90s, when I was a clerk at Jazz Record Mart, all I knew about bassist John Patitucci was his fusion work, both on his own and as a member of Chick Corea’s band (in fact, all you had to know about Corea’s work at the time was that he spelled the group’s name the Elektric Band). Unfairly, I pretty much wrote the bassist off until he turned up as a key member of the Wayne Shorter Quartet, for which he remains a crucial member, playing upright bass. Next week Patitucci releases Brooklyn on his own Three Faces label, on which he plays electric bass exclusively—but this is no flashback to his slick days at GRP Records. Playing a six-string semihollow model designed specifically for him by Yahama, Patitucci eschews any hint of fusion, serving as a tasteful yet forceful anchor for the frontline work of Adam Rogers and Steve Cardenas, two of the most impressive and versatile guitarists in contemporary mainstream jazz. The drummer on the record is the sublime Brian Blade, the bassist’s longtime bandmate in the Shorter Quartet.

It’s a terrific, richly varied effort that quietly shows off Patitucci’s nonchalant range and curiosity. He does take solos here and there, such as on the opening passage of today’s 12 O’Clock Track, “Do You,” which is getting its world premiere here. It’s one the airiest, most swinging pieces on the album, with superb multilinear improvising from both guitarists. The album is heavy with original pieces from Patitucci: “Band of Brothers” is kind of a loose funk jam that wouldn’t sound out of place on one of John Scofield’s recent jam-band efforts, while “JLR” is straight-up electric blues that recalls primo B.B. King. “Go Down Moses” bring some second-line grooves to a gospel theme that oddly reminds me of Tennessee Ernie Ford’s “16 Tons.” The group deftly essays a pair of Thelonious Monk gems in “Trinkle Tinkle” and “Ugly Beauty” and tackles the hypnotic “Dugu Kamalemba” by the brilliant Wassalou singer Oumou Sangare; in a duo with Blade, Patitucci glides through a lovely take on Wes Montgomery’s “The Thumb.” Brooklyn is officially released next Tuesday, May 19, while the digital version is available tomorrow.

The stellar lineup from the recording will perform at Space in Evanston next Tuesday as well. Check out “Do You” below.