When is a solo de­but not re­ally a de­but? When you’re a McDade

Edmonton Journal - - YOU - ROGER LEVESQUE

Solon McDade Mu­rals (In­de­pen­dent) You don’t ex­pect any­one’s solo de­but to sound this ac­com­plished, but then, it’s not as if Solon McDade started mak­ing mu­sic yes­ter­day. Grow­ing up in Al­berta in the McDade Fam­ily Band and tak­ing off with the award-win­ning McDades seems to have fos­tered a nat­u­ral ver­sa­til­ity for play­ing across gen­res. Check his ex­ten­sive work as a side­man for many shades of roots and jazz acts.

Still, this quin­tet ses­sion sug­gests that the Mon­treal-based bassist ex­cels at play­ing, com­pos­ing and ar­rang­ing in a jazz frame­work. As the leader-com­poser, his role feels all about sup­port first, warm, vi­brant and groov­ing down on most tracks, ten­der and in­tro­spec­tive for in­ti­mate bal­lads, al­ways ready to high­light other play­ers. But lis­ten closely. He might be sub­vert­ing his walk to in­ject an ex­tra stroke of emo­tion or a wry aside. When he does solo, he takes over the mo­ment nat­u­rally.

Those other play­ers don’t let him down ei­ther on a 65-minute, nine-track set of bop and bal­lads, find­ing old-school re­spect for the ba­sic rudi­ments of melody and rhythm with a con­tem­po­rary twist.

Up front, a twin sax line fea­tures the leader’s brother, Jeremiah McDade, on tenor and Donny Kennedy on alto, both siz­zling along pretty ef­fort­lessly, oc­ca­sion­ally pok­ing the other into all-too-brief ex­changes, or play­ing the heads off of tunes in uni­son to beau­ti­ful har­monic ef­fect. Pi­anist Paul Shro­fel is so el­e­gant, and drum­mer Rich Ir­win mas­ter­fully ur­gent, com­plet­ing a su­perb rhythm chem­istry around the bass, keep­ing things spa­cious with eco­nom­i­cal punc­tu­a­tion, never over­play­ing.

But it’s not just the team ef­fort that im­presses here. Some­one had to set the right pace, and sort out the so­los which flow so nat­u­rally through seam­less tran­si­tions, and ar­range the be­gin­ning, mid­dle and end so each track feels unique unto it­self. Some­one had to frame the Mu­rals and hand out the paint, and that’s what makes this such a ma­ture set. You could eas­ily mis­take them for a band­leader and band who have been play­ing to­gether for years.

The track ti­tles are the re­ally cu­ri­ous part (liner notes please). I sus­pect there are some good sto­ries there to tell, but even if you don’t hear them word for word, you will catch their spirit in this ex­pert en­counter. Try it on head­phones to get ev­ery note.

Note: Ed­mon­ton-born Solon McDade is back in his home­town this week to cel­e­brate the re­lease of Mu­rals, live at the Yard­bird Suite (86 Av­enue at Gate­way Boule­vard), 8 p.m. Fri­day, com­plete with the same band from the al­bum. Tick­ets are $22 for mem­bers, $26 for guests, in ad­vance from Tix on the Square or at the box of­fice. The al­bum Mu­rals is avail­able at solon­m­c­dade.com.

Bassist Solon McDade is back in town Fri­day to cel­e­brate the re­lease of his solo de­but as a jazz leader on the al­bum Mu­rals.

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