Sebastian Maniura, London Jazz News

With an impressive line up including players such as Peter ErskineBob Mintzer and Jack DeJohnette, award-winning, composer, producer, engineer and bassist Scott Petito has created a fresh and vibrant new album, recorded in the studio that he runs near Woodstock, NY, and featuring new material as well as some older numbers.

Rainbow Gravity draws on influences ranging from the experimental albums of Miles Davis, notably In a Silent Way and Bitches Brew, to artists and groups from the late ’60s and early ’70s such as the Mahavishnu Orchestra, Chick Corea and Weather Report. However, the album isn’t just a re-hash of old tropes, but a thoughtful and highly creative sequence of collaborative work, with a wealth of new ideas that are inventively explored to release their full potential. This is definitely worth a listen.

One of the real strengths of the album is its emotional and tonal breadth. The band, in its various configurations, creates strongly contrasting sound worlds. In the more upbeat numbers such as The Sanguine Penguin the group really opens up, Petito playing a skipping walking line, occasionally joining in with the complex melody parts, whilst Peter Erskine plays a loose swing feel which, during his solo, he takes apart and gradually builds back up to lead into another bass-led section. On the rock and funk infused Sly-FiOmar Hakim grooves with Petito’s fast, complex fills whilst David Spinozza, Bob Mintzer and David Sancious take increasingly intertwining blues inflected solos. The track The Sequence of Events wears its references on its sleeve with a unison melodic line of hits that functions as its own groove, Rachel Z even going so far as to quote Chick Corea’s Spain during her lively and adventurous solo.

Throughout the album, the line-up and personnel alters, shrinking and expanding to accommodate the changing styles. The first of two duets, Dark Pools, in which Petito loops both cello and bass whilst Jack DeJohnette accompanies with cymbal rolls and scrapes, explores an eerie, sparse soundscape wholly different to the warmer, more upbeat numbers.

Masika, featuring Petito’s heavily Pastorius-influenced fretless playing, has repeated phrases using harmonics creating a trance like feel. while tracks such as Lawns and A Balsamic Reduction are laid back and peaceful, with space for each soloist to stretch out and explore the possibilities offered up by the songs.

Although there are many eloquent, tasteful and technically thrilling bass solos throughout Rainbow Gravity, often on piccolo or fretless versions of the instrument, the album is not just a conduit for bass brilliance. Instead, Petito has brought together these world-class musicians for a really creative project. The group seems to enjoy the still, thoughtful moments as much as the more joyful, energetic numbers, leading to a well-curated album that ebbs and flows along its musical journey. Symbol Bells, a mystical bass and drum duet, brings everything to a close in a tranquil, delicate manner. With layered harmonics and reverberating percussion, it leaves the listener peaceful, calm and contemplative.

LINKS: The album at Scott Petito website
Scott Petito’s studio

Line Up:

Scott Petito – bass/ piccolo bass
Jack DeJohnette, Peter Erskine, Simon Phillips, Omar Hakim – drums
Bob Mintzer – saxophone
Mike Mainieri – vibes
Rachel Z, David Sancious and Warren Bernhardt – keyboards
Chris Pasin – trumpet
David Spinozza – guitar
Bashiri Johnson – percussion

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