Dave Young – Ides of March (released 20 November)
(Modica Music. CD review by Lavender Sutton)
Winnipeg-born, Toronto-based Dave Young, who has recently passed his 80th birthday, is most celebrated for his work with Oscar Peterson, which spanned over more than three decades. His last album, Trouble in Mind, was nominated for a 2020 Juno Award.
With the benefit of hindsight and all that has happened since the spring of 2020, the title of his new album, Ides of March, has an unknowingly prophetic feel to it. The band on the new album is a similar group of musicians to the last – Kevin Turcotte on trumpet and Reg Schwager on guitar – but this time Young adds Canadian favourite Terry Clarke on drums as well.
The collection of tunes speaks about Young’s influences and taste – there are four Herbie Hancock compositions and one by Lee Morgan, mixed with a few originals, a piece by Danish pianist Niels Lan Doky and a stand out Gershwin ballad.
Dolphin Dance sticks out as a great opener. Turcotte exudes coolness as he leads the way on this laid-back melody. After the solos, the band falls into an improvised turnaround that builds nicely before the song closes. Speedball, the Morgan tune, is one of those punchy bebop heads that you’d leave the club singing at the end of the night. It’s what these guys are known for – swinging, straight up. The head of the tune comes around in between each solo including some trading with Clarke. Speak Like a Child is a nice Bossa that shows off Turcotte’s ability to manipulate the trumpet tone with some warmth. Young’s bass solo is intriguing as he flutters over the vamp with different rhythmic patterns.
One Finger Snap and Riot are both up-tempo and driving forward. The whole band is very present in each tune – even when one is soloing, the other musicians are contributing equally. It’s balanced and invigorating.
My Man’s Gone Now, from Porgy and Bess, has a very different feel to it. The impression of it, with Turcotte using the Harmon mute on his trumpet, is very sad and pleading. There are no drums on this piece, which adds to the empty feeling of the tune and gives Young the stage to stand out as the rhythmic and melodic glue.
Young saves his originals for the end. Title track Ides of March has a frantic pace to it and as it switches between waltz and common time, the listener teeters between the stable and unstable feel. The Target (Lan Doky) brings back that coolness as Turcotte, Schwager and Young seem to take turns playing the interjecting melodic lines on this hip modal tune. Forty Five Degrees (presumably a reference to the “Canada line”) is the last tune, written by Young, and while it has a similar feel to the previous piece – it’s a comforting tune to end on.
These guys sound like they just got together for a jam and a hang and someone happened to be recording their session. Professional and severely talented, but so confident and fun that you wish you could have been there.
LINK: Ides of March will be released worldwide on 20 November on Modica Music