With a background firmly rooted in progressive rock and progressive jazz, bassist Richard Addison delivers Mood Swings
, a broad program of fusion which ought to garner wider recognition for his playing and, more importantly, his strong compositions.
The Addison Project is a loose collective of musicians, gathered by Addison to realize his diverse writing. From the opening track, "Sleepwalking", which places a Zappaesque head over a deep groove that Frank would never have written, to the closing piece, "Controlled Freedom", which starts as a free-jazz piece but moves into a tender ballad for bass and saxophone, then shifts into a peaceful piano/violin duet before concluding in jarring electronic territory, Addison covers a lot of ground.
"The Muffin" could easily fit into Steve Coleman’s M-Base book, with its frenetic bass line and contrapuntal guitar/sax line. But that’s only the beginning; as in most of Addison’s pieces there are many movements, this time moving into an uptempo funk vamp that allows the musicians to stretch out, especially Eric St-Laurent, who delivers a blistering guitar solo before the piece returns to its M-Base roots.
"Montée de lait" is another uptempo funk tune which shows how well the group can effortlessly navigate through shifting time signatures. Drummer Stéphane Crytes lays down a thick groove to Addison’s popping and slapping bass line.
Robin Boulianne’s violin introduces the title track, which pays homage to Miles Davis’ "Tomaas", from Tutu
, but further expands on the melody. Luc Aubry delivers a tasteful, Lyle Mays-informed piano solo.
Dynamics shift between acoustic and electric guitars in the Scofield-like groove of "Le Grand-Bé (Wrath of Chateaubriand)", before taking off into deep funk territory with Philippe Lauzier’s saxophone screaming over an almost heavy metal foundation.
"Mceuet" is another M-Base tune, but unlike much of Steve Coleman’s work, Addison doesn’t draw out the groove endlessly; instead he keeps things interesting by working with Crytes to constantly and subtly shift it.
"10h10", with its string synth washes, violin solo and heavy pedal tone guitar power chords, owes something to various King Crimson incarnations, but is less abstruse.
Throughout the album, Addison provides a solid foundation. While he clearly has the chops, this recording is not about meaningless displays of virtuosity; rather it is about the compositions, and creating ensemble arrangements that best present them. With Mood Swings
, Richard Addison has created a highly engaging album of progressive rock/jazz, with memorable compositions that resonate long after the album is over.