Mike Pope - "Cold Truth, Warm Heart" (2011) 8/10
In a word - keeper
Mike Pope - basses, Seamus Blake - tenor sax, Joe Locke - vibes, Geoffrey Keezer - pianos, Alan Blackman - piano on "Prelude...", Mauricio Zottarelli - drums, Lydia Courtney - add. vibes on "Ether".
Once in a while you come across an album that unexpectedly lands itself in your regular listening rotation. "Cold Truth, Warm Heart" has melodies fancy and cool, a distinctive sound thanks to the addition of Joe Locke on vibes (and a well-parlayed assortment of tonal combinations), a variety of approaches not heard on many jazz releases today, and a great band of name players who are giving full-throttle performances.
Best tracks: all of them. "Prelude in E Min Op. 28 No. 4 (Chopin)". Pope expands certain measures of the piece, and gives a heartfelt, wonderful demonstration of his massive skill on electric bass, obviously influenced by Patitucci. (Who isn't?) "Bare Minimum" is highly reminiscent of mid 70's Bobby Hutcherson/George Cables angularity, very satisfying swing! "Out of the Ether" is descriptively titled, beautiful dreamy stuff. "Shadow of a Doubt" is a showcase for both Seamus Blake's hot tenor and a Geoffrey Keezer two-fisted piano and rhodes tirade! The opening title track sports a neat phrase, and has the classy move of Pope taking the last solo - it's a good one. Gliere's "Romance" becomes an enchanting mid-tempo ballad handled delicately. "RAL and Tonto" makes nice use of a fascinating vibes and bass combo on the melody, Keezer takes a monster solo on Rhodes with tremendous support from drummer Mauricio Zotterelli. LOTS of good music on this release - a new millennium keeper!