Release Date – 2014
Label – Independent
- DVS ( Devious )
- Planet Of The Ape Shit
- Magic Lantern
- Pole Shift
- Atomic Biscuit Fuck
- Green Way
- Trans Movement
- Shocking Hearse Winter
- James Singleton – Double Bass, Efx, Trumpet
- Mike Dillon – Drums, Vibraphone, Tabla, Percussion
- Larry Sieberth – Piano
- Skerik – Tenor Sax
- Mark Southerland – Tenor Sax
- Tim Green – Tenor Sax
Reviewed In OffBeat
John Swenson (April 2015 Issue)
Bass is the sinew of the jazz band. Mistress of the pulse, muted partner of the melodic lead, architect of harmony in motion, in glorious service of the perfect whole. It can be the lead instrument itself, or the articulate force of the musical idea being expressed.
James Singleton, one of the most gifted bassists working today, combines all of these elements in his playing and something more as well. He can seemingly play any style in any context, always in perfect symbiosis with the project at hand, but he can also work inside his own vision, drawing like minds into communion with his imagination.
In this sense, he reminds me of the late master Charlie Haden, an immutable, metronomic force in an ensemble but also a curious thinker and experimenter with forms in his own right.
Shiner collects material from Snug Harbor performances by Singleton on bass (and trumpet), Mike Dillon on various percussion instruments, Larry Sieberth on piano and three different saxophonists—Skerik, Mark Southerland and Tim Green.
Most of the material was written by Singleton, except the album opener “DVS (Devious)” and “Pole Shift,” both written by Dillon. “DVS” is a high energy tour-de-force, a Mike Dillon signature piece that carries his uncanny ability to appeal to fans of experimental jazz and jam bands simultaneously. His feel for the groove and manic intensity, matched brilliantly by Singleton and Sieberth, is trumped by the fierce originality of an approach to vibes playing that recalls the young Bobby Hutcherson playing with Eric Dolphy.
Those instincts for unfettered sonics are shared with Skerik, whose deconstruction of saxophone lines can be as angular as a Kandinsky painting. “Pole Shift” builds to a frenetic series of scalar runs from Southerland on tenor.
Singleton opens “Planet of the Ape Shit” with a well-designed solo, and by the time the others, including Southerland, join in, the title’s aptness comes into clear focus. “Magic Lantern” features Dillon on tabla during the introduction and a theme reminiscent of a Wayne Shorter composition for Weather Report, followed by some otherworldly vibes playing over a droning bass pattern.
“Lento” is a pastoral piece with arco bass and sustained vibes setting a gorgeous tone. When Skerik slowly works his way in, the tension builds to a dramatic finale.
The masterpiece here is a five movement suite featuring the late saxophonist Tim Green, a player as unique and spiritually guided as Charles Lloyd and Yusef Lateef. The suite begins with “Atomic Biscuit Fuck,” offering Green plenty of room to show the discursive side of his playing in a chamber-like setting.
The brief “Green Way” and the bass-driven “Trans Movement” set up the contemplative flow of “Shocking Hearse Winter,” built on an inventive bass riff and melodic, Keith Jarrett-like runs from Sieberth.
“Shiner” completes the suite with darting, searching lines from piano, percussion, saxophone and bowed bass. Green’s saxophone captures the sense of mystical transcendence that lies at the heart of the piece.