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MARK EGAN

About Now

Wavetone WT8650

 

 

 

  1. Sailing

  2. Slinky

  3. About Now

  4. Cabarete

  5. Graceful Branch

  6. McKenzie Portage

  7. Little Pagoda

  8. Tea In Tiananmen Square

  9. Puerto Plata

    Mark Egan - Basses

    Mitchel Forman - Keyboards

    Danny Gottlieb - Drums

    Mark Egan belongs to a select group of electric bass guitarists who have the ability to play their instrument to a high standard but who also have the creative imagination to write memorable themes. In his youth, the Massachusetts-born Egan was strongly influenced by the great Jaco Pastorius with whom he had private tuition. It was Pastorius who opened his eyes to the potential of the bass guitar. Egan, over the years, has played with many of the most influential jazz guitarists of our times as well as pop stars such as Sting. Egan and drummer Danny Gottlieb first met in 1971 at the University of Miami and subsequently have been involved in numerous musical collaborations together. They were colleagues in the Pat Metheny group in the 1970s and in the Gil Evans Orchestra. Egan and Gottlieb co-founded the jazz-fusion band, Elements, in the early 1980s, where they were joined by the third member of the trio on this disc, pianist/keyboardist Mitchel Forman. Forman, too, had an impressive back story, having played with the likes of Gerry Mulligan, Wayne Shorter and John McLaughlin's Manavishnu Orchestra.

    The three musicians on this recording know each other inside out, thus making for a high octane partnership. The music is all composed and arranged by Egan. Forman plays both electric and acoustic piano at different points on the album. My personal favourite among the tracks on offer is the title track, About Now, with its hint of poignancy, coupled with an imaginative interpretation from Forman in particular. The theme draws you into a rewarding, rich experience. The quality overall, though, hardly drops below that of this highlight. On Sailing, for instance, Egan shows why he is so esteemed as a performer on the electric bass, featuring a five-string fretless Pedulla bass overdubbed with an eight-string fretless bass. He is totally melodic while Forman provides dynamic accompaniment alongside the forceful Danny Gottlieb. Slinky is an intriguing mix of gospel and funk. Cabarete is an easy-on-the-ear team triumph. Graceful Branch, a fine ballad, has a relaxed Mark Egan joined by the intuitive Mitchel Forman, underpinned by the steady beat of Danny Gottlieb on drums. On McKenzie Portage, Egan provides a stylish and extended improvisation, as bass and Forman's groovy piano engage in an engrossing conversation. The atmospheric Little Pagoda is described as a free tone poem with Bali as its inspiration. Several tracks on the disc conjure up places with which Egan has associations or memories, ranging from McKenzie in Ontario to Cabarete and Puerto Plata in the Dominican Republic. Tea In Tiananmen Square is another such, which stems from a tour to China with a concert band and which, musically, is notable for a repetitive beat and the way Egan explores its appealing theme, as ever, forging his own distinctive path. The closer, Puerto Plata, is a short rhythmic piece, weighing in at under two minutes.

    This 2014 CD is one of a series of impressive albums that Mark Egan has released through his own label, Wavetone Records. He demonstrates time and again how gifted he is as a performer and composer. He and his fellow musicians are in creative accord with one another. On occasions, the ending of a track can sound as if the tune has simply run out of road but my, the journey is worthwhile.

    James Poore


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