Friday, May 05, 2017

Luke Sellick Alchemist

Luke Sellick


Cellar Live

Bassist-of-choice for Russell Malone, Johnny O’Neal, Jimmy Greene and others, 26-year-old Luke Sellick has his debut album as a leader. Born in Winnipeg, Manitoba, coming to New York he studied at Juilliard where he was mentored by the great Ron Carter who writes the liner notes for this recording.

Sellick has an impressive group of musicians to interpret his nine compositions including Adam Birnbaum on piano and Andrew Renfroe on guitar, who play on all the tracks, and Jimmy Greene on tenor saxophone; Jordan Pettay on alto saxophone; Benny Benack III on trumpet; Mat Jodrell on trumpet; Adam Birnbaum on piano; Kush Abadey on drums; Jimmy Macbride on drums and Andrew Gutauskas on bass clarinet.

After the brief sober “Prelude," ”Q-Tippin’” (dedicated to drummer Quincy Davis) has Kush Abadey channeling Tony Williams with the Latin-tinged groove Jimmy Greene, Mat Koddell and Andrew Renfroe all sounding impressive on a performance that evokes classic sixties Blue Note recordings. “Brothers,” inspired by Sellick’s upbringing, has Jimmy McBride driving the stately, relaxed groove on a lovely theme that Pettay and Benack state before the leader solos followed by Benack’s lyrical playing and a brief break from Renfroe.

"Hymn," a mediation on Sellick's faith, is a reflective piece played at a languid tempo with some thoughtful tenor from Greene. "The Alchemist" is a more energetic number with Renfroe displaying great facility and thoughtfulness on his solo followed by Pettay's spirited alto solo. The relaxed tempo of "Dog Days" backdrops Greene and pianist Birnbaum with Abadey propelling the performance with his rhythmic accents. The charming waltz, "Abacus," features lovely trumpet from Jodrell along with Birnbaum's ruminative piano, while "Uptown!" is a swinging quartet performance enlivened by solos from Renfroe and Birnbaum and then Sellick himself with more outstanding support from Abadey. McBride crisply backs the closing "Home," with a light blue cast and enticing solos from Renfroe, Benack and Birnbaum along with their interplay during the closing bars. 

Throughout the performances, one is struck by the steady anchor Luke Sellick provides on bass, the wonderful musicians and the ensemble work on these intriguing compositions, resulting in some very appealing musical alchemy.

I received my review copy from a publicist. This review originally appeared in the March-April 2017 Jazz & Blues Report (Issue 371). Here is a video of Luke Sellick performing.

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