This is Daniel Bruce's first release of his work. The compositions of Bruce and bassist/composer Aidan Plank (Whisper) are well executed by the ensemble that works on this disk. The group consists of Brian Donohoe on tenor saxophone, Ken Edwards on trumpet and flugelhorn, Bruce on electric and nylon string guitars and lap steel, Matt Lawless on piano and Fender Rhodes, Scott Trayer on acoustic bass, and Ross Pederson on drums.
A Single Thread opens with the song of the same title and establishes the music as a significant collaboration of these artists. The compositions are gentle and calming, the expressiveness is open and flowing. You never get a sense of one artist or the other "leading," it is as all jazz should be, a collobortive effort--a give and take on the theme. Daniel Bruce and this group have achieved that balance of individual expression, while keeping the whole in tact.
Donohoe is featured in "Sofa" the second track, and he takes on the song with an elemental energy that provides a dynamic and tonal ride, setting up Bruce's guitar work, which holds its own during my listen. The rhythm section of Trayer and Pederson is solid throughout this recording and is everpresent, but never overbearing.
All the musicians shine on this CD and their interpretations of the compositions are thougtful and appropriately aligned with the central theme of each composition, and as a whole, the CD is a thoroughly enjoyable listen--unobtrusive, but identifiable and attractive.
Another notable track is "Some Towns" a song full of textures and moods. It rambles like a Methenyism, but without the dominant presence for the guitar part, but much more balanced and sensitive to the whole composition. The brush work of Pederson, again, is an affirmation that he was a great choice for this project--enough accent, without stomping out the fine notes being delivered by Bruce. Exquisite work between the members of the ensemble.
As with so many compositions and discs I listen to, it had a hint of things I had heard before, a groove that was familiar and a melody that was reminiscent of a prior artist, but when I tried to put it together to nail down the source of Bruce's style, I was left with just pieces. Bruce has done a good job to evovle a sound of his own. The band stayed true to that sound and delivered a unique listening experience.
I found a maturity in Bruce's playing that belies his physical age. His cumulative experience is what is best represented by his composition and playing, and his craft is developing nicely. A brilliant first effort. I look forward to hearing more from him in the future.