Mel Graves is a California bassist and composer who past affiliations have included Mose Allison, Jerry Hahn (whose Jerry Hahn Brotherhood was an early fusion band, circa 1970), Joe Henderson, John Abercrombie and Denny Zeitlin. Here. On this, one of his infrequent dates as a leader, Graves explores sun-kissed Pacific Coast cool bebop with 11 easygoing originals. Which is not to imply this is Quiet Storm fodder - there’s plenty of sure ‘n’ steady, breezy swing, quietly resolute soloing (especially from the hearty Rollins-ish sax of Harvey Wainapel and Bob Afifi’s sturdy, unsentimental yet heartfelt flute) and thoughtful compositions (unusual time signatures, a nice sense of spaciousness, avoidance of clichés) that manage the nice trick of being mellow, accessible and substantial. Re: points of reference, this set puts me in mind sound-wise of some Verve albums from 1961-66, the Paul Desmond and Hubert Laws albums from around the same time and the 70s, and even the MJQ. While no monster, Graves’ Ear Shot is nice music to dig while sipping your favorite beverage on your front steps on a sunny day (or one that deserves to be).
Artist / Group Name:Mel Graves
CD Title:Ear Shot - The Music of Mel Graves
Record Label:Mutable Music
Musicians:M. Graves: acoustic bass; George Marsh: drums; Harvey Wainapel: tenor sax; Bob Afifi: flute; Pete Estabrook: trumpet; Al Bent: trombone; Randy Vincent: electric guitar.