Jazz CD Reviews

Terry Plumeri – Blue in Green – GMMC Records

A very high level of virtuosity doesn’t necessarily translate into an altogether successful recording.

Published on October 13, 2008

Terry Plumeri – Blue in Green – GMMC Records

Terry Plumeri – Blue in Green – GMMC Records 745-2, 66:28 ****:

(Terry Plumeri – acoustic bass; David Goldblatt – piano; Joe La Barbera – drums)

This may well be a disc unique in the history of jazz.  Featuring the astounding bass playing of Terry Plumeri, often bowed and in the lead role, Blue in Green represents a very high level of accomplishment.  The leader’s beautiful tone, precision bowing (especially in the higher registers), swinging arrangements, and stirring solos, all within the confines of a standard jazz piano trio, make this a disc deserving the widest possible hearing.

Why not five stars, then?  Because in the end, it comes off as more of a novelty than as a serious jazz statement.  What’s wrong?  This listener, at least, tends to tire of the bowed bass as a lead jazz instrument.  No matter how incredibly high the level of playing, one either soon wearies of the sound, which is not without a certain annoying—even grating—timbre, or one finds oneself not really concentrating on the musical interplay but instead thinking how remarkable it is that the double-bass can be played in such a fashion.   One also begins to look forward to the more straightforward piano trio passages, with pianist Goldblatt supplying spritely solo statements and the leader, though relegated to a standard plucked bass supporting role, nevertheless distinguishing himself as a master of more conventionally jazzy stylings.  

Despite these observations, it must be reiterated that the sheer virtuosity of Plumeri’s arco bass often astounds, as on “Gentle Rain,” by the brilliant but somewhat neglected Luis Bonfa, and Herbie Hancock’s classic “Dolphin Dance.”  Moreover, it should be noted that Plumeri is also an accomplished classical musician, conductor, and composer of film scores.  So if Blue in Green isn’t entirely successful as a jazz recording, Terry Plumeri is definitely an artist worth hearing.

Beautiful Love
Blue in Green
Autumn Leaves
Gentle Rain
Dolphin Dance
’Round Midnight

– Jan P. Dennis

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