There are far too many young musicians who think the way to achieving success is to release a recording as early as possible. This misguided method usually finds the musician displaying a lack of musicianship, technique and musical maturity. The problem is that even if the musician goes on to develop adequately they will always have to stand behind their first release; one done when they weren't musically ready. Thankfully that is not the case with Seth Ford-Young's first release as a leader.
Now in his late 30s, bassist, vocalist and composer Ford-Young's first eponymous release is a well-crafted affair of Spanish/gypsy swingish songs performed in a quartet setting with excellent accompanying musicians who are obviously having a great time in creating this musical document. Joining Ford-Young are Tin Hat accordion master Rob Reich, former Turtle Island String Quartet and Hot Club of San Francisco violinist Evan Price, and rhythm guitarist Jason Vanderford. Together the four musicians have created a recording of uncompromising delicate sweetness.
Mixing original material with a number of familiar and not-so-familiar tunes, the disc is one of those you'll find yourself listening to late at night when you want to smile but want to do it in a subdued manner. All of the members of the band are excellent musicians. Price's violin work is, to coin a horrible pun, priceless. He plays with a feel and temperament that exhibits his years of hard practice and study. Guitarist Vanderford, who functions almost like a drummer on this recording, has impeccable time. Knowing when to push the ensemble and when to lay back and let the ensemble come to him is not as easy a skill to develop as many would like to think, but it's a skill Vanderford has mastered. Reich's accordion work is at times mournful, as on Erik Satie's "Gnossienne #1," and at times joyful, as on "Joseph, Joseph."
Ford-Young is a bassist of remarkable restraint. Most musicians, when recording their debut CD, overextend their own presence. Ford-Young, however, realizes he's working within a dynamically exciting ensemble, and he lets the ensemble speak for itself. The result is sublime beauty. Ford-Young's singing is, oddly when one listens carefully to his vocal timbre, actually rather enticing. By not forcing his voice upon the proceedings, instead preferring to sing within the confines of the ensemble, one can't help but be sucked into the joy of the moment. His vocal work on both the 1920s standard "If I Could Be With You," and the Hoagy Carmichael chestnut "Skylark," is indeed impressive. All-in-all this is a magnificent recording of touching beauty.