Eddie Gomez’s name stands tall in the canon of jazz double bassists. Eleven years playing with Bill Evans in one of the finest piano trios of all time, a founder member of 70s fusion act Steps Ahead, and a CV that includes sessions with such legendary names as Miles Davis, John Coltrane, and Dizzy Gillespie. With a career like that, one would think that Gomez was a jazz ambassador from another era. However, he continues to make music which is as interesting and satisfying as anything he has ever done. Just last year he won a Latin Grammy for the ‘Further Explorations’ double CD that he recorded with Chick Corea and Paul Motian, and his latest release, ‘Per Sempre’ is of a similar high quality.
Recorded in Bologna in late 2009, ‘Per Sempre’ (or ‘Forever’ in English) didn’t get a release in the USA until 2012, and was only launched in the UK in February of this year, coinciding with Gomez’s European tour. It is laid-back ensemble piece, made by a co-operative – and highly simpatico – quintet rather than the output of a star player and his backing musicians. Gomez is very much a part of the team here, and, perhaps, because of this approach, the recordings have a striking sense of intimacy to them. The individual soloing is inspired throughout, with pianist Teo Ciavarella and drummer Massimo Manzi stylishly holding everyone together.
Of the tracks themselves, ‘Bologna d’Inverno’ has the sweetest of melodies and maximizes the effect of synchronizing Matt Marvuglio’s haunting flute with Marco Pignataro’s rich, inventive saxophone, ‘Pops and Alma’ contains the most charming of hooks, and the fresh approach which is taken to ‘Stella by Starlight’ breathes new life into this old jazz standard.
As for Gomez’s own playing, his arco work on both the aching lament ‘Homesick’ and the introductory section of ‘Arianna’ are just masterful. His solo on ‘Why Cry’, with its use of arpeggios and vibrato, simply shimmers with class. One of the true masters of his instrument, he sounds as inspired today as he ever did. Equally, he is content to sit back and let the others shine. A great jazz album by one of the world’s finest double bassists. Highly recommended.