fri 23/02/2024

Album: Vicente Archer - Short Stories | reviews, news & interviews

Album: Vicente Archer - Short Stories

Album: Vicente Archer - Short Stories

150 albums as sideman... and finally a debut as leader for the bassist

When is the right moment for a musician to step out of the shadows and release an album in her/his own name? Vicente Archer, one of the most in-demand NYC bassists around, has certainly taken his time. In his late forties, and with appearances on over 150 albums by others to his name, he explains: “I wanted to find something that’s more myself.” Short Stories will be released on the Canadian Cellar Live label. 

Bassist Archer grew up in upstate New York. His first instrument was the guitar, both in a teenage rock band, and sitting as a local jazz gig which happened to include the great drummer Jimmy Cobb. He studied in Boston, hovering undecided between music an business studies, “bought a bass on a whim”, and was snapped up while still a student to go on tour with jazz groups led by both Donald Harrison and Eric Reed. Since then, for more than two decades, he has essentially never looked back. The range of contexts he has played in shows his class and phenomenal adaptability: he was Robert Glasper’s bassist for more than a decade, and is on some of the pianist’s best albums to date. He has also worked with Norah Jones, Pat Metheny, Wynton Marsalis, Kenny Garett, Mary J Blige, Nicholas Payton, Terence Blanchard…

Bass hero Ron Carter once said that a good bassist determines the direction of any band. The miracle of Vicente Archer, then, is that he can set a band off in quite so many different directions.

The trio he has assembled for Short Stories consists of three musicins with superb empathy, both of the others being firm long-term friends and close colleagues. All three of them had toured extensively with John Scofield in his “Combo 66” quartet, as featured in the recent film Inside Scofield. So a reductive version of of the story of this album might be to suggest that Scofield’s backing band has become the band out front, but that doesn’t do them justice in any sense. These are three seasoned top-flight players, and the empathy as each sets off to follow his instincts, and their sixth sense of anticipation is extraordinary.

The album is not released until 9 June, but I have found every moment of it so captivating and I am itching to write about it. Two singles have been released, and both are wonderfully balanced tunes with a natural and continuous sense of ease and flow. Each of these provides a welcome, a comforting beckoning to try the delights of the album as a whole. “Bye Nashville” is a great starting point into the album, and probably the most radio-friendly track on it. Archer shows his stupendous melodic sense right from the start. The other single "Mirai" uses plucked harmonics, used with great expressivity, and placed to perfection. 

On other tracks on the album, one absolute joy is the astonishing, mesmerising flights of fancy from the pianist. Elsewhere there are other permutations such as the atmospheric track “It Takes Two to Know One” for just bass and drums, or “Lighthouse”, for a furiously agile bass and a piano inserting simplicity in the form of a regular monotone.

It's never "all about the bass". What it is about us modern virtuosity equalling an ability to have a voice in many idioms. And Vicente Archer certainly has that. Try the singles as a gorgeous taster and an invitation. In a few weeks, the rest of the album, its depths and its astonishing freedoms will definitely be worth the wait.

Gerald Clayton's pianistic vocabulary and inventiveness in the moment are limitless


Editor Rating: 
Average: 5 (1 vote)

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