Recorded at Montreal’s Studio PM, Canadian double-bass player Levi Dover’s debut album features nine self-composed, improvisational pieces on which he is joined by five talented Canada-based colleagues. Dover started on electric bass before moving to the more traditional form of the instrument while studying at McGill University, and has played and recorded with Gentiane MG Trio, pianist Emie R Roussel, Luc Hermann, Alex Francoeur, Yannick Rieu and Joel Miller, among others.
The aptly titled opener First Impression’s four-minute excursion sees New Zealand trumpeter Lex French’s horn to the fore, followed by a subtle interplay between piano and vibraphone while a progression of drum rolls and fills holds things together. L’Appel Du Vide, another shorter piece, finds Dover active on bass behind French’s trumpet before giving Andrew Boudreau’s piano space for some animated solo work. Erik Hove injects fine, lazy sax turns which also play in tandem with Olivier Salazar’s vibraphone.
MK, a longer, slower, more pensive exercise, sees the two horns working together once more against Salazar’s random vibes, while Kyle Hutchins’s haphazard drum patterns offer a backdrop to alternating squealing sax and playful piano, the leader providing rippling bass throughout.
The seven-minute Galapagos starts with resonant double-bass lines running the length of instrument’s neck against understated piano, vibraphone and gently clashing cymbals, which in turn give way to a lively sax passage, with drums and bass busy in the backdrop. The piano then takes off, before falling again into a fussy interaction with the saxophone.
How The Light Gets In offers another spotlight to bass and vibraphone before handing over to a mellow sax-and-piano collaboration and Dover’s continuing bouncy bass presence, with Salazar contributing more spirited vibes later on. The closing title track brings things to a dreamy close with all concerned contributing skilful individual parts, while also coming together as a solid combo.
This is a sound set which boasts thought-provoking, highly personal compositions by the leader, and the musicianship from the group of award-winning players is of an impeccable standard. Fans of shorter, more structured, more concise or more “popular” material may find it “samey” or repetitive, particularly with regard to the lack of contrast between slower or upbeat sounds – there certainly could have been more variety of tempo here – but devotees of luxurious innovation and improvisation will enjoy the music and dig the concept. The clue is in the title.
First Impression; In Hindsight; L’Appel Du Vide; MK; Galapagos; How The Light Gets In; The Fox And The Cat; Imaginary Structures (46:24)
Dover (b); Lex French (t); Erik Hove (as); Olivier Salazar (vib); Andrew Boudreau (p); Kyle Hutchins (d). Montreal QC, Canada, April 2020.
Three Pines Records TPR-004