By Tim Niland
Bassist and composer John Lindberg has travelled the world playing wide range of music and he has released many albums as a leader and collaborator which feature his singularly identifiable bass playing. But on this album, he comes back to the beginning – literally – creating a meditation on Detroit, the broken and collapsed city of his birth. This is a personal and thoughtful album where he is joined by clarinetist Wendell Harrison and by vibraphonist and percussionist Kevin Norton. Lindbreg, whose epic bowed and plucked bass combine with clarinet, shades of vibraphone and subtle percussion to create a stark and haunted landscape. The music is dark hued and somber, melding classical influences with jazz that transcends the musical form as crystalline vibraphone notes swirl colors and clarinet can respond with submerged gurgles like a drowning man, which is an apt musical metaphor for a city in chaos. There can be potent sections of long held notes, accompanied by sawing sawing strings. Vibes will rattle and clank, but also chime beautifully. Lindberg develops a thick and truly present plucked bass sound that fits well with the clarinet and interacts with the vibes and percussion on a high level. Norton’s vibes also resonate very well in open space. There are also sections of lonely and almost desolate bowed bass sounding like a cello solo in open space, sad and mournful. A tribute in three parts to the late Roy Campbell is included, “The Left Wrist Parts 1 – 3” and this juxtaposes the decay of the earlier music and provides a reminder (along with the recently passed anniversary of his birth) of what a powerful impact Roy Campbell had on the music scene in his all too short life.