Martin Wind and the New York Bass Quartet: Air

Four double basses and guests essay properly catholic repertoire embracing Nordic folk, Weather Report, Pat Metheny, Bach and the Beatles


Bassist Martin Wind is joined in this new quartet by Gregg August (former principal bass with Brooklyn Philharmonic), Jordan Frazier (principal bass with the Orpheus Chamber Orchestra) and Sam Suggs (an assistant professor of bass). Special guests are Matt Wilson on drums and percussion, who played on Wind’s recent album, My Astorian Queen, drummer Lenny White (once of Chick Corea’s Return to Forever) and Gary Versace on piano, organ and accordion.

The album explores the tonal possibilities of the acoustic bass and the scope between classical, rock and jazz. The sumptuous title track is derived from Bach’s Air On A G String. It’s followed by Wind’s breezy composition (Give Me Some) G-String with each bassist following in sequence until Versace on Hammond and White on drums dramatically change gear to push the number into funk territory. The track entitled Beatles Medley has the quartet deftly weaving four Lennon & McCartney songs (The Long And Winding Road; Here, There And Everywhere; She’s Leaving Home and Lady Madonna) into a polyphonic tapestry.

Joe Zawinul’s Birdland is transformed into a foot-tapping jazz-fusion riff followed by Wind’s sonorous and almost hymnal adaptation of Charlie Haden’s Silence. I’d Rather Eat escalates in intensity around a contrasting interlude of melodic calm. Pat Metheny’s Tell Her You Saw Me has resonant arco bass with Versace wistful on piano and accordion. Icelandic Romance has a Nordic folk-tale feel with superb bass harmonies and the album closes with a melodious version of the opening number by the trio of Wind, Wilson and Versace.

Ron Carter suggests in the liner notes that you should “imagine an album on which four bass players and a few guest musicians dare unusually difficult-to-play arrangements – and thanks to their outstanding skills they succeed”. I couldn’t have said it better myself.

Air; (Give Me Some) G-String; Beatles Medley; Birdland; Silence; I’d Rather Eat; Tell Her You Saw Me; Iceland Romance; Air (trio version) (54.21)
Wind, Gregg August, Jordan Frazier, Sam Suggs (b). Special guests: Matt Wilson (d, pc); Lenny White (d); Gary Versace (p, org, acc). New Jersey, 19 & 27 March 2021.
Laika Records 35104002