Bassist/composer Michael Bates is a young man with a significant voice. On his fourth date as a leader we find the high-impact quartet, captured live at New York City’s Cornelia St. Café. The band uses depth and space as additives, where they pursue a balanced muse, consisting of the free-form slant, coupled with seething unison choruses and edgy soloing jaunts. Bates also injects the element of surprise as the program is partly based on mood-evoking sentiment and abrupt shootouts, marked by the soloists’ emphatic lines, and odd-metered ostinatos.
They cover free-bop amid climactic movements and periodic treks into avant-garde territory via these complex pieces that evolve like an unfolding plot. With "Simple Interlude," the hornists’ profess a sense of triumph, molded by a Spanish flair. Moreover, Bates and drummer Jeff Davis lay down a fluid and powerful bottom to coincide with all the sinewy developments. Ultimately, it’s a democratic engagement, awash with the frontline’s brazen phraseology and twisting storylines. And on "Damasa," trumpeter Russ Johnson kicks matters into overdrive atop the punishing rhythms. No doubt, Bates is in full artistic stride here. The future is bright for modern jazz, thanks to efforts like these, where the best of many musical worlds band together in rather seamless fashion.