Peninsula
Release date: March 6, 2020
Label: Outside In Music

Bassist and composer Clark SommersPeninsula is the enthralling new album from his Chicago supertrio made up of three world-class musicians: Sommers, saxophonist Geof Bradfield and drummer Dana Hall.  These musical comrades have performed with each other for over twenty years, a fact that becomes obvious when one beholds the stunning cohesiveness they have as an ensemble, which was characterized best by Sommers assertion that the trio “breathes as one entity.”  On this new release, Ba(SH) offers listeners seven new compositions by consummate bassist Clark Sommers; a large sound from a decidedly paired-down instrumentation. 

Recorded in Chicago in Spring 2017, Peninsula is a follow up to the trio’s 2013’s critically-acclaimed debut Ba(Sh). Sommers notes This chord-less trio format presents many possibilities because of the absence of piano/guitar driven harmony. The bass acts as more of an immediate pivot for the harmony and is therefore more open-ended.”  Given this freedom, the trio explores the realms of harmony, melody and texture while telling tales of loss and personal discovery with their evocative instrumental performance. “I specifically wrote the music for those 2 personalities,” asserts Sommers, “I’ve been playing with them for over 20 years and they’re 2 of my closest friends and collaborators.”

Peninsula begins with the driving groove-centric “High-Tide”, Sommers’ bass takes the fore in the melody of this muscular composition.  Stunning interplay is displayed between the three consummate musicians. Composer Clark Sommers likens the repeated refrains of “High Tide” to the tides of the ocean, and the waltz at the end of the piece depicts the disorientation associated with swimming in a sea of confusion and not-knowing; a statement about our current socio-political climate.  The album progresses with a textural foray in the next track “Morning Bell”.  This second track utilizes collective improvisation to build and release tension in a masterful fashion.  The track harkens back to the traditional sound of indian ragas with notes of the later work of John Coltrane drawing the listener into the sound of this dynamic trio’s modern sound.

The third track, “Goes Around” is a bright-tempoed swing sending the listener back to the realm of Ornette Coleman.  On this track, saxophonist Geof Bradfield and Sommers display their stellar improvisational facility, dictating the path of the piece by conjuring supple melodies, complemented by drummer Dana Hall’s sensitive, reactive performance.  “The Forgotten” begins with a beautiful counterpoint between an ostinato bass figure and Bradfield’s lilting melodic refrains.  This thoughtful, contemplative composition features Bradfield as a soloist while Sommers and Dana Hall lock into a pulsing groove.  The track is a musical depiction of loss and rediscovery.

Bradfield takes the lead on the album’s next track “Maybe Never”.  The laid-back, ominous, sinewy melody meets with Sommers’ countermelody creating a darkness perfectly balanced by Bradfield’s euphoric improvisation on the next track “Hope Dance”.  The album ends on a high with the spirited track “Disambiguation”, a powerful uptempo composition with a declarative melody played by Bradfield; a final resolution to this landmark recording.

More About the Artist:

Grammy award winning bassist Clark Sommers was born and raised in Illinois and cut his “jazz teeth” in Chicago. He has been touring the world since 2008 and has enjoyed playing for audiences in the US, Australia, Japan, South Korea, China, Istanbul, Paris, South Africa, Scotland, Russia, Canary Islands and many cities in between with Grammy award winning Jazz vocalist Kurt Elling. Clark can be heard on seven Elling recordings including “Dedicated You” which won a Grammy for Best Vocal Jazz Album in 2009. When not on the road with Kurt Elling, Clark enjoys leading his own band, Ba(SH). The group includes long-time friends and collaborators Dana Hall and Geof Bradfield. The group's first recording, self-titled Ba(SH), was released in August 2013 and has received critical acclaim. It was acknowledged on the "notable and not to be missed" list by All About Jazz in 2013. In 2017, he released his second recording as a band-leader, including all original compositions called ‘By A Thread’.

The Clark Sommers Lens Project which features Kendrick Scott on drums, Jeff Parker on guitar and Gary Versace on organ. Clark also composes and plays bass in Typical Sisters, a trio comprised of Greg Uhlmann and Matt Carroll. The group released its second album, ‘Hungry Ghost’ in March, 2019 and was included on The New York Times and Best of Band Camp playlists. Additionally, in 2017, Clark has released a co-led recording with John McLean featuring renowned vibraphonist, Joe Locke called ‘Parts Unknown’.  Clark has also had the privilege of performing and recording with Portland pianist and composer Darrell Grant in his “Territory” and “Step by Step” ensembles with Brian Blade, Joe Locke and Steve Wilson.

He completed his undergraduate degree in Jazz Studies and World Music at the California Institute of the Arts, where he studied with bass masters Charlie Haden and Darek Oles. He continues to seek expansion of his craft by pursuing his musical studies with David Grossman of the New York Philharmonic, Mike Longo, Greg Sarchet and Stefon Harris. He recently completed two educational residencies at the Brubeck Institute in Stockton, California. Clark currently resides in Chicago and can be heard performing with groups led by drummer Dana Hall, Geof Bradfield, Adam Larson, Chris Madsen, Scott Hesse, Nate Lepine, The Chicago Yestet and Dan Cray, among others.

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JEROME WILSON
ALL ABOUT JAZZ
"This trio fits together with a near-telepathic closeness to produce deep and rich music." Read the full review here.

EDDIE MYER
JAZZ VIEWS
"The interaction between the players is paramount to the success of this kind of venture and its evident from the first listening that these guys are longtime friends, possessing the kind of empathy and trust that comes from a well evolved musical relationship." Read the full review here.

LEE MEGNER
JAZZTIMES
"A listener can hear all that in the music of Ba(SH) on Peninsula, which resonates with hardcore jazz fans and non-jazz listeners alike. And you don’t have to be from Chicago to appreciate its raw power and simple beauty. All it takes is an appreciation for music with muscularity and intelligence, and a certain comfort with unpredictability."Read the full feature here.

KEVIN JOHNSON
NO TREBLE
Read News Piece here.

GEORGE W. HARRIS
JAZZ WEEKLY
"Rich uses of spaciousness and timeliness". Read the full review here.

DAN BILAWSKY
JAZZTIMES
"A promontory jutting into the waters of possibility, this particular Peninsula is a truly valuable piece of land." Read the full review here.

MIKE JURKOVIC
ALL ABOUT JAZZ
"The illusory nature of Sommers' music is on bright display on "Hope Dance," a true lesson in listening to three men work, laugh, divine and concur." Read the full review here.

 

SHAE FONTANA
BLEU BOP
"Peninsula is a musical odyssey worth taking the time to listen all the way through."  Read the full review here.

 

RICHARD KAMINS
STEP TEMPEST
"One could put Peninsula on repeat and hear something new each time. Clark Sommers' Ba(SH) plays spirited music that refer to its predecessors yet is firmly situated in the here and now."  Read the full review here. 

HRAYR ATTARIAN
CHICAGO JAZZ MAGAZINE
"The ideas on Peninsula are an extension of Sommers’ first record, Ba(SH) (Origin, 2013); here, they are crystallized and further matured. Additionally, Sommers wrote the entire work—endowing it with an engaging cohesiveness. This makes it necessary to listen to it in one sitting for a fuller appreciation of its nuances and the bassist’s artistry."  Read the full review here. 

 

CHRIS SPECTOR
MIDWEST RECORD
"Solid stuff throughout, this is a must for listeners that like to let their ears do the heavy lifting while they sit back and take it all in." Read the full review here. 

BASS MAGAZINE
Full article here.

DAVE CANTOR
DOWNBEAT
"While Peninsula serves to document a band two decades (and unfortunately only two albums) into its performing life, the recording also makes a point about Chicago and the players who call the city home. No matter how talented and well-credentialed Sommers, Bradfield and Hall are, they’re not necessarily the most visible players on the city’s scene. That’s how deep it is." Review here

MIKE JURKOVIC
ALL ABOUT JAZZ
"Because Ba(sh), a trio defined only by the elementary concept that 1+1+1=3, converse as one on Peninsula. Thereby making Sommers' rather simmering, seven scrutinies welcome respites from the breaking news and insistent chatter that bombards us all from any myriad of sources at any given, riven moment." Review here

HOWARD REICH
CHICAGO TRIBUNE
Ba(SH) celebration. See show preview here

DEE DEE MCNEIL
MUSICAL MEMOIRS
"I feel these three players beat as one heart. They merge together like blood and bone. The result is stunning, entertaining and inspired." Review here

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