Christian Fabian Trio – Hip to the Skip – Spicerack

by | Mar 30, 2024 | Jazz CD Reviews | 0 comments

A funky trio effort with heaps of soul.

Christian Fabian Trio – Hip to the Skip – [TrackList follows] – Spicerack SR-101-68, 60:01 [2/1/24] ****:

(Christian Fabian – electric bass, arranger (tracks 2, 6, 8); Matt King – keyboards, arranger (tracks, 3, 11); Jason Marsalis – drums, arranger (track 4))

Bassist Christian Fabian dives into his funk-jazz and fusion roots on his latest trio outing, the hour-long, 11-track Hip to the Skip. Fabian may be best known by jazz listeners as a member of the traditionalist Lionel Hampton Big Band or perhaps the bop/swing Native Jazz Quartet. But the Swedish bassist, who has called NYC home since the 1990’s, has also worked in The Crane and Fabian Project and Time Design, two groups with a focus on jazz with a funk/rock or fusion approach.

Hip to the Skip features Fabian, drummer Jason Marsalis (also in the Native Jazz Quartet) and keyboardist Matt King (a lengthy list of credits in the jazz, pop, and blues scenes). Sessions between 2021 and 2023 resulted in five originals and six compelling covers. The trio begins with Fabian’s dance-delineated title track with solid soloing from King and Fabian. During “Hip to the Skip” King evokes Herbie Hancock’s fusion material and a bit of Joe Zawinul’s funkier Weather Report playfulness. Mentioning Zawinul, the trio delves deeply into Zawinul’s oft-covered “Mercy, Mercy, Mercy,” first heard on the 1966 Cannonball Adderley album Mercy, Mercy, Mercy! Live at “The Club”. Fabian’s fat electric bass is out front throughout the first half of the over seven-minute adaptation which Fabian arranged, and then King showcases his Rhodes electric piano skills. Another bluesy standard—also arranged by Fabian—is Bobby Timmons’ “Moanin’,” the title track from the 1958 Art Blakey and the Jazz Messengers LP of the same name. The  call and response melody provides plenty of room for Fabian, King and Marsalis to maneuver in and out of the main theme over the course of nearly nine minutes. 

The trio slows during a soulful, almost seven-minute take of the traditional gospel number “When the Saints Go Marching In,” also arranged by Fabian. This rendition is a long way from the one made famous in 1938 by Louis Armstrong and his orchestra. But Marsalis slips in New Orleans rhythmic hints to keep this from straying too far from familiar ground. Another composition which first came to prominence in 1938 is the Rodgers and Hart show tune “This Can’t Be Love,” from the musical The Boys from Syracuse. Rodgers and Hart, though, probably never thought it might sound like the contemporary and funky five minute version arranged by Marsalis. Fusion-funk soars on the interpretation of “Four”—which is aptly renamed “(Funky) Four”—an Eddie Vinson tune Miles Davis released on the 10″ 1954 LP Miles Davis Quartet and later on Workin’ with the Miles Davis Quintet (taped in 1956 and issued in 1960). Fabian’s arrangement of “(Funky) Four” has King on both Rhodes and B3 organ while Fabian echoes Jaco Pastorius at times. The album-closing reading of McCoy Tyner’s “Effendi,” (from Tyner’s 1962 record Inception) is another cut which puts a different spin on an acoustic jazz piece. King’s arrangement emphasizes his Rhodes inclinations and is a fast-paced affair with soloing from all three trio members.

The funk and soul influences are also to the forefront on the originals. King’s “Incognito” (at four minutes the shortest work) is lightly reminiscent of Weather Report’s more robust moments. King’s “Sidekick” is a fine foundation for interplay between Fabian’s beefy bass, King’s stout Rhodes piano and Marsalis’ capering drums. Marsalis offers two tracks. “Zig 7” is presented in a classic organ trio soul setting. The percolating “In the Name of Feminism” has a cheerful candor highlighted by King’s Rhodes and a scintillating bass and drums interaction. Hip to the Skip is an entertaining excursion through modern funk- and soul-jazz well worth discovering.

—Doug Simpson

More information through Christian Fabian Trio

Album Cover for Christian Fabian Trio - Hip to the Skip

 Hip to the Skip

Mercy, Mercy, Mercy
This Can’t Be Love
When the Saints Go Marching In
Zig 7
(Funky) Four
In the Name of Feminism

Christian Fabian Trio releases a new album, “Hip to the Skip”.  Jazz Music Review by Doug Simpson.


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