David Bach: Otherworld
By GEANNINE REID
Published: April 8, 2014
Like the famous composer from whom Bach shares his last name, the Washington, D.C.—Baltimore—Michigan based pianist David Bach has a deep love for the piano and melodic music is the theme on his CD, Otherworld. “My parents never had to ask me to practice,” says Bach of his formative encounters with the piano. “I just sat there and learned the stuff, and people started responding to what was happening. That was all the inspiration I needed to keep going.” As the recipient of two Gold Records and winner of the 2004 Maryland State Art Council Performance Award, the David Bach Consort was the winner of the Jazz Discovery Showcase on BET and Bach has performed at Jazzmatazz with B.B. King, and has played at the Kennedy Center and beyond. Among his many accomplishments, Bach has returned to Europe as a touring musician for RCA/BMG recording artist Fishbelly Black. Other contributions include keyboarding for Janet Jackson and Everything But The Girl and touring with Enrique Iglesias. Bach has developed a deeply personal songbook over the years, beginning with Window on the West (1998 debut), 5thousand Words (2001) and on to A Deep Breath (2005), culminating in the 2008 album LIVE at Baker Park, which documents a beautiful summer’s night of music-making. Otherworld (2013), Bach’s fifth record as leader and his fourth in the studio, is a testament to his growth as a player, composer, and producer. Bach continues his moody interfacing of classical, R&B, and improvisational influences in a fine balance of strong melodies and infectious grooves. Bach leads a powerful collection of musicians through an 11-song set of brawny approved feels that carries on the tradition of contemporary jazz in the best sense of the phrase. Bach’s playing and composing can bring to mind artist such as Eberhard Weber, Yellowjackets, Jeff Lorber and Jan Garbarek. Bach is a storyteller and his playing is melodic and precise.
The opener, “City Lights” sets an upbeat mood with a singable melody and excellent sax work by saxophonist David Marq Wells. The song sets a great tone for the rest of the session as Bach balances his fluid solos with an enjoyable collection of original compositions and arrangements of tunes that might surprise you. “There and Back,” is an enjoyable waltz that seems to find inspiration from a lovely harmonic setting that Bach pens a beautiful melody and punctuates it with space; top shelf. The project has a uniform sound and feels even throughout, each track consists of a different lineup, and the roster includes: multi-instrumentalist Bobby Read, who doubles as horn arranger on “Sapphire.” Reedman and longtime Bach associate David Marq Wells, drummers Mark Prince and John Thomakos, percussionist extraordinaire Ekendra Das, flutist Al Williams, guitarists Leonard Stevens and Andy Shriver, bassists Lorenzo Sands and Jimmy Charlsen and percussionists Edgar Montalvo. Lots of jazz players borrow from outside their genre, but it’s hard to find one that sets up more seamlessly for a relaxing groove than U2’s ” With or Without You.” This take is less reinterpretation than a celebration and works beautifully punctuated by an exquisite bouncing solo by Bach on the piano. Otherworld has many moments of nostalgia with the Keith Emerson, Hammond-infused “Rite or Wrong” or Steely Dan in the minimal, luxurious swim of “Sweet Spot.” A splendid take on Johann Sebastian Bach’s “a-minor Invention No. 13 (BWV 784)” is presented on the CD in response to constant requests for Bach to pay tribute to his namesake; Bach would and should be proud.
Melody lovers will enjoy Otherworld in which Bach pays close attention to presenting a tight, cooking collection of tunes that will keep you humming long after the notes stop vibrating the ears.
Track Listing: City Lights; There and Back; Sweet Spot; Angels ; All In; Sapphire; Layer of my Heart; Invention; With or Without You; Rite or Wrong; Night of Day.
Personnel: David Bach: piano, synthesizers, rhodes piano, hammond organ; Bobby Read: soprano sax 4, tenor sax 5 flutes and horn arrangement 6; David Marq Wells: soprano sax 2, 3, 11, tenor sax 1, 8, 10; Lorenzo Sands: bass 1, 4, 5, 8, 11; Jimmy Charlsen: bass guitar 2, 6, 3, 11, harmonics 4; Mark Prince: drums 1, 2, 3, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11; John Thomakos: drums 4, 5, 6; Leonard Stevens: guitar 1, 3, 5, 6, 8, 9, 10, 11, acoustic guitar 2, nylon guitar 4, ebow 7. Jeff Reed: upright bass 7, 9; Andy Shriver: guitar 1, 10; Al Williams: flute 8, 11; Karla Chisholm: voice 4; Ekendra Das: percussion 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, congos 1, 3, 5, 8, 9, 10, tablas 4, 11; Edgar Montalvo: percussion 1, 3, 5, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11; Katie Chambers cello 4, 7, 9.