Mike Downes | The Winds of Change
Top Frog13 Tracks71 Minutes
You'll be struck by the range of treatment the tunes Mike Downes' second CD as a leader possesses. The opening tune, Gemini, so nostalgically lyrical with a slight new age flavour, in which Mike's bass played pizzicato in the upper and middle registers carries the melody as much as Dave Restivo's piano; the arco bass intro to Jesenje Lisce, a Yugoslavian Traditional tune, which they manage to swing; the closing Any Chance to Prance with it's so funky heavy repetitive bass line, the first and last tunes being among the eight written by Downes himself, combine to give you the sense there is an ambitious creative tapestry happening here which is tastefully highlighted by the brassy splashes, clicks, purrs, bumps, slaps, taps and bounces of Ted Warren's right on drum kit.

It's wonderful to hear the big bass voice sing a melody, then duck behind the piano which Restivo plays like a mountain stream coming down over rocks and pebbles. All three musicians get the front and plenty of it, with perfectly vivid support from the others. And though all but a few tunes are written and presumably arranged by the players, the exception, the lovely standard, Golden Earrings lets you know there is a lot of sensitive and skillful improvisation happening.

Given the variety, the versatility, the virtuosity featured here, if you listen to it you'll agree there is also a total effect, and that is a haunting quality. The title The Winds of Change, speaks, however tenderly, however cheerfully and bravely, of loss and the fading of all we know, recaptured here in the illusion of music.

Stanley Fefferman for The Live Music Report

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