[ALBUM REVIEW]… inspiring bassist-composer Mark Wade’s fourth album True Stories

Several years ago, I had an unexpected pleasure to meet and explore a recording titled “Event Horizon,” to my delight this album was thoughtfully curated by an evolving young bassist and composer named Mark Wade. Of course, Wade has since meticulously labored through the layers of three lyrically enticing recordings “Moving Day, Songs From Isolation” with noted musicality, and focused tonality anchored to his major influences surges with precision.

With the arrival of  “TRUE STORIES,” his fourth album features the talented Tim Harrison and Scott Neumann to establish Wade’s most fertile work to date. Moreover, fear not his loyal fanbase won’t be surprised but ecstatic to hear Mark’s flawless voice, warmth, and elasticity armed with significant growth documented through this fruitful collection of eight originals and one cover tune for good measure.

From the outset, the Miles Davis-inspired “I FEEL MORE LIKE I DO NOW” lives up to expectation as he channels his way note by note through the body of metered melodies, embraceable rhythms, and poignant harmonics are inviting and pleasing to the ear. “FALLING DELORES” appears next, this lovely gem my favorite sways with spirited lyricism, while clothed with Wayne Shorter’s immersive voicings is shaped by Wade’s coalesced tone on this attractive composition.

In recent memory I’ve grown fond of the velocity, warmth, and ambiance of the acoustic bass, Mark Wade is among many who has encouraged and developed my ongoing appreciation through tunes like “THE SOLDIER AND THE FIDDLE” inspired by virtuoso Igor Stravinsky embellishes the lingering and delectable tonality intertwined I yearn to hear jazz wise. The next tune, “IN THE MARKET” literally caught me off guard originally recorded by the iconic fusion ensemble Weather Report, Wade’s intuitive voice is apparent and virtuosity articulates his reimaged vision with ample twists and layers is a near-perfect addition to this collection.

At the fifth position, the bluesy swag of “PISCATWAY WENT THAT-A-WAY” to capture my attention encompasses the talents co-written by the incomparable duo Wade and pianist Fred Hersch. Combining their insightful approach is an example of why jazz enthusiasts love and appreciate this genre and continue to be sustained by remnants of what jazz embellishes historically has embodied and expands and perfects its colorful voicings in real-time.

With three songs in the balance from a listener’s perspective, I wonder which way will this journey take me?  The tangible “SIMPLE SONG” in the lineup accentuates Mark’s viable yet embolden tonality with a spark of enthusiasm provided by pianist Frank Kimbrough together materialized by their passion and unity as collaborators student and teacher. Cemented in the nuances of Wade’s musical vocabulary echoes hints of Charles Mingus penned in the context, architecture, and savoring swing of “SONG WITH ORANGE & OTHER THINGS.” Closing this session, Mark Wade’s signature is deeply inscribed in the delightful passages adorned with unmatched interplay applied on “AT THE SUNSIDE,” much like his previous pieces this gem paints his musical persona with a vivid array of gracious accents usher listeners into the wealth of this varied musical collective.

Even though I don’t consider myself an authority on jazz, nonetheless, novice and enthusiasts alike are likely to agree with each listen will recognize the substance, maturity, and ascension of bassist-composer Mark Wade’s rousing voice is vaulted into the future with excellence on his latest and stellar contribution to the world of jazz titled “TRUE STORIES.”

~Reviewed by Rob Young of AJE



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