Brett Bottomley - Grand Stick
Nick D'Errico - drums
Jeremy Osterling - tenor saxophone
Trevor Williams - vibraphone
review by Greg Howard
Journeys, the debut CD from Stickist Brett Bottomley, truly expands the instrument's role in a jazz context. Most of these eight original tracks feature his quartet, with drumer Nick D'Errico, tenor saxophonist Jeremy Osterling and Trevor Williams on vibes. In this setting Bottomly draws on his many years of experience on upright bass, outlining the harmony and driving the rhythm with fast-paced bebop and latin basslines. All the while he plays the melody, comps behind Osterling and Williams, or solos with the right hand, playing parts as any skilled jazz guitarist might.
While this bass-plus-guitar approach isn't new to The Stick, it's the added dimension of his more pianistic side, echoing Bill Evans and Keith Jarrett, that takes the instrument one big step deeper into the music.
Many jazz musicians would be tempted to mix their own tunes in with familiar standards, especially on a debut release; but Brett boldly lays eight of his own compositions on us. Each track is a journey into a distinctive well-established jazz style, from "Portmeirion"'s hard-driving funky fusion, to the introspective solo "MFA," and straight-ahead "Green's for Griffin" (quartet) and "Austin's Song" (a "solo" a la Ray Brown and Joe Pass, together). Few two-handed tappers have risen to the challenge of delivering a convincing bebop bassline and solo simultaneously. Bottomley makes it sound easy.
On the lilting "Charlottesville," an homage to my adopted hometown, Brett seamlessly bridges all the "traditional" bass/guitar/piano roles, uniting them on one instrument. Then he takes on a burning minor Latin groove ("Samba de Palo"), and pauses to take a breath with "Yorkshire," a brief, slightly angular solo tune.
The closing track, "Remembrance (for Michael Paone)," is a beautifully conceived ballad, a bittersweet reflection on a final journey, soulfully played, with some truly remarkable soloing.
D'Errico, Osterling and Williams play brilliantly, and the chemistry is clear. Brett couldn't have asked for three better bandmates to introduce us to his skills as a composer, bassist, soloist and bandleader.