Album Review: True Stories from Mark Wade

Album:  True Stories
Artist:  Mark Wade
Label:  Mark Wade Music

Modern jazz composer and bassist Mark Wade looks to jazz luminaries like Miles Davis, Charles Mingus, and Wayne Shorter for wisdom while making music that serves his day and age.  His latest release True Stories is not a rehashing of straight ahead jazz/after hours club music from a bygone era but rather his arrangements are a descendant of the works from such pioneers of the art form.  Audiences will recognize that Wade has a kindred spirit with after hours club staples.  He is a product of their lessons and willpower to see that jazz music endures into contemporary times.

Wade exhibits a frolicking nature along the recording, continuously shifting the dynamics moving effortlessly from being somber like in "Song with Orange and Other Things" to jovial like in "I Feel More Like I Do;" from being sedate and reflective like in "Falling Delores" to uplifting and vaunting like in "At the Sunside;" from being intense and introspective like in "The Soldier and the Fiddle" to laid-back and aplomb like in "A Simple Song."  Wherever he takes listeners, it mirrors their thoughts and lifestyle.  The agility in his bowing on the bass is artfully performed through "In the Market," accentuating the main motifs played by pianist Tim Harrison and complemented by the brisk drumming of Scott Neumann.

The cool jazz strut of the piano ambling along "Piscataway Went That A-Way" shrouds the tune in a bluesy texture as Wade infuses soft tremors with his bass along the track.  The press release for the recording explains that the arrangement was inspired by Fred Hersch's composition "Swamp Thing," which Wade had been listening to on the radio while driving passed the exit for Piscataway, New Jersey. The arrangement will likely not remind listeners of Hersch's tune but rather provides a description of Piscataway's qualities, giving listeners a vivid impression of the town through music that is laid-back and sprawling.

Wade shares his personal stories on True Stories with music he shaped and created, triggered by his trove of memories.  He is the founder and director of New Music Horizons and serves as artistic director for Art in the Park and the Annapolis Jazz & Roots Festival in Maryland.  He has been a member of the jazz faculty at Lehigh University since 2017.  Mark Wade's trove of musical experiences continues to grow along with a will to see that jazz music endures into contemporary times.

Mark Wade - bass
Tim Harrison - piano
Scott Neumann - drums


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