|White Noise Martin Wind, Philip Catherine & Ack Van Rooyen, Laika Records|
There is a beautiful warmth and sonorous resonance to the work of bassist Martin Wind. I have heard Wind’s playing musically enrich work performed with saxophonist Scott Robinson, the drummer Matt Wilson, the guitarist Ulf Meyer and the pianists' Bill Cunliffe and Bill Mays. The soloist/accompaniest has composed, played, and recorded on over ten of his own leader /co-leader releases including Get It (2010), the orchestral Turn Out the Stars, Music Written and Inspired by Bill Evans (2014), and Light Blue (2018).
Flensburg, Germany born Wind graduated from the Cologne Music Conservatory in 1995 where he studied with orchestral bassist Wolfgang Guettler. He placed 3rd in that year’s Thelonious Monk Bass Competition in Washington. At the age of seventeen, Wind was exposed to the work of Belgian guitarist Philip Catherine in a duo with the iconic Danish bassist Niels-Henning Ørstead Pederson on their album The Viking and the Dane’s bass work left a lasting impression. Wind came to the US in 1996 where continued studies at NYU earning a Master’s degree in jazz performance and composition. His bass work has a distinctive orchestral influence. His large, warm sound and inherent sense of rhythm deftly anchor any work that he performs, and he can employ a gorgeous arco technique at will.
Wind realized his wish to play with the respected guitarist Catherine in 2013 when the duo recorded their first album the duo New Folks. The latest release White Noise is an attempt by Wind to create a “Kind of sound oasis.” His goal “In a world where silence is becoming more and of a luxury, I wanted to create a little acoustic opposite pole.” The album succeeds and it is in no small part due to his two seasoned bandmates. Wind is the youngest of this trio at fifty-two, with Catherine at a sprite seventy-seven and Van Rooyen as the elder master at the age of ninety!
Wind opens a Kenny Wheeler composition “Canter” with a vibrating arco opening that resonates with overtones and emanates with a visceral yearning. A gorgeous melody, Catherine’s gentle touch, and Van Rooyen’s mellow-toned flugelhorn lead the listener to this magical world of calm and beauty, as Wind sustains the gentle rhythm of a canter. A rewarding respite to another world of tranquility and beauty.
Cole Porter’s “Everything I Love” captures a nostalgic time when a good song and some swing could take you to a less strenuous time. Van Rooyen's horn is mellow and bubbly, and Catherine’s guitar adds some offbeat licks that surprise. Wind’s bass solo is buoyant, cheerful, and swinging.
Wind wrote the title song “White Noise” with his bandmates in mind. Catherine utilizes some subtle and effective echo and electronics to create the opening that leads you into this unknown territory. The music has an ethereal ECM feel to it with Van Rooyen's searching horn work floating over the soft accompaniment of his bandmates. Catherine’s guitar work here reminds me of some of guitarist John Abercrombie’s atmospheric outings. Despite being able to lose yourself in the clouds that these guys create, you never lose the beauty of the melody that sustains you throughout.
Van Heusen and Burke’s standard “But Beautiful” is one of two duo features on the album with Catherine and Wind taking it slow and demonstrating a sense of familiar simpatico. Catherine’s playing is just beautiful and a modicum of artistry.
“The Dream” is a moving ballad that Wind wrote for his first meeting with guitarist Pat Metheny when they played together at Jazz Baltica in 2003. Catherine’s gorgeous strumming and Van Rooyen’s plaintive horn work are at top form and Wind’s plucky bass solo work is superb.
Ack Van Rooyen's composition “Autumn Bugle” is a searching, blues-based ballad that features the Dutchman’s warm tone and Catherine’s sensitive accompaniment. I’ve not heard this artist before, but the man's articulation and expressive emotional delivery are especially noteworthy. In the liner notes Wind called Van Rooyen an angel and the nonagenarian jokingly admits to being maybe an aging angel.
Wind wrote the “Genius and a Saint” for a friend and fellow bassist Bob Bowen who had sadly been the victim of a fatal bicycle accident. There is a somber, deliberate sense to this tune initially. Soon Catherine and Wind change the feel enlivening it with more hopeful approach. Catherine's inventive approach offers strumming his guitar like a mandolin, adds some rapid arpeggios, utilizes some beautiful fingered chording, and includes some modulated volume. Wind buoys the rhythm with a more aggressive pace that energizes the mood behind Catherine's expressive adventures.
Wind opens up with a bellowing bass solo on Styne and Kahn’s poignant standard “I Fall in Love Too Easily.” Van Rooyen's flugelhorn spells out the melody before Catherine’s guitar harmonizes the music with his own improvised ideas to end the set.
Van Rooyen and Catherine have lived through a period of time that has given them a sage's perspective of history's vagaries. With Wind, these gentlemen lend their maturity and sensitivity to this project with this music and their artistry. Martin Wind’s White Noise is a welcomed celebration of music that soothes, entertains, and delights in today’s age of uncertainty and tension.