Unusually, it’s worthwhile discussing what might be called the conceptual underpinning of this album, because the reflective, almost contemplative air of the programme springs from Bareket’s reaction to the pandemic and the fact that, as he discusses in his accompanying note, he found his train of thought slowing down in the midst of the adjustments he had to make. He has succeeded in his stated intention of making an album without stress.
He has also, for this listener at least, evoked the spirit of Harry Carney in a manner that sets him at some distance from the modest pack of contemporary baritone sax wielders. In covering Lucky Thompson’s Deep Passion he also reminds us of an unjustly neglected figure who arguably did himself no favours in doing things his way and his alone. Bareket caresses the line, as it were, and in so doing shows himself unusually able to plumb emotional depths the like of which seem to escape so many players of contemporary jazz.
If those depths imply a certain weight of history, then the point’s reinforced on The Man I Love, where McCarthy’s quasi-rhapsodic intro provokes Bareket into some of his most reflective work. Again adoration of the melody is implied through understatement, and Bareket’s wonderful tone “speaks” for itself to the point where adornment and the empty display of technique are surplus to requirements, which makes Bareket’s restraint all the more telling.
On initial hearing Gould’s vocals on both Never Let Me Go and Stevie Wonder’s If It’s Magic are intrusive, in the sense that Bareket, McCarthy and Bareket share such a depth of understanding that any other input might seem intrusive. But then the pathos she gets out of the former supplements the depths referred to above.
Here’s a thing, too. I’ve always considered Harold Arlen’s Over The Rainbow rather sugary, especially lyrically, but here Bareket confounds expectations in a manner that renders it fresh, at least in the sense that it’s no threat to dental health. Again his marvellous tone does its thing, and the resulting stress-free music eases in turn the stresses of everyday life, which in this era of diminishing musical returns is no modest feat.
Deep Passion; If It’s Magic; Un Vestido Y Un Amor; I Cover The Waterfront; Fleurette Africaine; Nature Boy; Day Dream; Jerusalem Of Gold; The Man I Love; Never Let Me Go; Over The Rainbow (51.38)
Bareket (bar); Chris McCarthy (p); Or Bareket (b); Vanisha Gould (v). Brooklyn, New York, 23 April 2021.
Fresh Sound New Talent FSNT 623