by Ian Mann
October 19, 2023
An impressive statement from Logan Kane that demands that he should be regarded as one of America’s premier bass players and composers. The music is bold, visceral, inventive, dynamic and intense.
(Ghost Note Records GNR10123)
Logan Kane – acoustic & electric basses, synthesiser, guitar, David Binney – alto sax, Banjamin Ring – drums, John Escreet – piano, Paul Cornish – piano, Mark Turner – tenor sax, Jon Hatamiya – trombone
Logan Kane is a Los Angeles based multi-instrumentalist, vocalist, composer and producer who is best known as a bass player, both on the acoustic and electric versions of the instrument.
Still only twenty six Kane has studied jazz with trumpeter Ambrose Akinmusire, drummer Peter Erskine and composer Vince Mendoza. He has quickly established himself on the LA jazz scene performing with musicians such as saxophonists David Binney, Steve Lehman, Chris Potter and Henry Solomon, pianists John Escreet and Edward Simon, drummers Nate Wood, Ari Hoenig and Justin Brown and vibraphonist Joel Ross.
The versatile Kane is also active in other genres of music and plays bass guitar with soul artist Jon Bap and with the funk outfit Thumpasaurus. He has also collaborated with vocalist, guitarist and songwriter Becca Stevens.
His previous recordings include the album “Nope, science” (2020) and the EPs “Planet Mirrors” (2021) and “Laser Cars” (2021). He has also made two recordings with the vocalist and songwriter Lorin Benedict “No Relation, No Problem: Live at bluewhale” (2019) and “They Went That-A-Way” (2022).
Although they feature other musicians some of the above recordings feature Kane playing the majority of the instruments and some of them also involve the use of laptops and other electronics.. “Floor Plans” is different in that it sees him largely focussing on the bass on what is basically an acoustic jazz recording,
The new album is Kane’s first for the LA based Ghost Note record label, whose roster also includes David Binney. Label boss Steve Markarain comments;
“We are thrilled to welcome Logan to the Ghost Note family. As one of the finest up and coming musicians in the Los Angeles area and indeed throughout America, we are very excited for what he future holds”.
“Floor Plans” finds Kane leading a core quartet featuring David Binney on alto sax and Benjamin Ring at the drums, with piano duties divided equally between John Escreet and Paul Cornish. Tenor saxophonist Mark Turner guests on two tracks and trombonist Jon Hatamiya, a previous Kane collaborator on one. The presence of the Doncaster born John Escreet helps to give the album an additional significance for British audiences.
As his discography suggests Kane is a prolific composer and this new album features no fewer than fourteen tracks. Several of these are very short and there’s no flab on an incisive and hard hitting recording that also features Binney in the role of producer.
The brief, self explanatory “Start The Album” commences with a voice (musician Kane or producer Binney?) stating this phrase, followed by an echoed arco bass drone.
Then we’re into the first ‘real’ composition, “Where Within”, introduced by Cornish’s staccato piano phrasing, shadowed by Ring’s drums. Together with Kane these two establish an odd meter groove that is capped by the unmistakable sound of Binney’s alto. It’s an impressive piece of writing that moves through a series of stylistic and dynamic changes, but which retains a characteristic ‘edge’ throughout. Kane impresses with the first of several excellent double bass solos, while the similarly impressive Ring weighs in on the drums.
Escreet takes over the piano duties for “Droplet”, but there’s no let up in the energy levels. This is fiery, often complex post bop forged in the crucible of the American urban environment. The playing is truly virtuosic, but also thrillingly visceral, very much in the spirit of contemporary American jazz.
The more structured compositions are punctuated by shorter improvised episodes such as “Floor Plans One”, a brief cameo for double bass, both bowed and plucked.
We’re back into the hurly burly with “Labor Day For Machines” with Escreet continuing in the piano chair. Punchy and hard hitting with its staccato rhythms this piece includes a guest appearance from trombonist Jon Hatamiya that further broadens the sound palette, along with a dash of synth from the leader. This is an exciting fearsomely complex piece that features some virtuoso playing all round and sees Kane moving to electric bass and releasing his inner Jaco on the coda.
“Bass Solo One” is another of those brief improvised episodes, but with Kane demonstrating an astonishing facility on double bass it’s one of the more substantial examples.
“Stuck” retains Escreet on piano and he helps to provide a pounding rhythm that fuels Binney’s darting alto sax phrases. The pianist’s tumultuous solo steers the music closer to the realms of free jazz as he evokes the spirit of Cecil Taylor, his thunderous playing augmented by Kane and the dynamic Ring. Binney then returns to stretch out more expansively, but there’s no letting up in terms of scorching intensity as the quartet continue to generate musical white heat. The listener is left battered but exhilarated.
“Floor Plans Two” is a short improvisation featuring the sounds of bowed bass and alto sax, a brief episode that again punctuates the more substantial compositions.
There’s a change of direction with “DSP” which approximates the rhythms of electronic dance music and sees Kane adding a more substantial dash of synth to the mix. He’s also featured on electric bass alongside Ring’s hip hop and EDM inspired grooves. This is perhaps the closest this album gets to Kane’s work in other genres as he delivers a virtuoso electric bass solo a la Jaco Pastorius or Stanley Clarke. It is perhaps significant that Cornish, his colleague in Thumpasaurus has taken over at the piano and functions as the second featured soloist. Nevertheless there’s more than a hint of Cecil Taylor in his playing too.
“Spiders”, with Cornish continuing on piano, cools things down significantly for the first time. A gently brooding and atmospheric piece it sees Binney adopting a softer tone on alto while Ring deploys brushes in the earlier stages. But it isn’t quite the abstract ballad it promises to be as the music later becomes more intense and exploratory, with Binney probing more deeply. Eventually the piece resolves itself with a return to the earlier lyricism.
“Bass Solo Two” offers more improvised double bass virtuosity and leads the way into “Mountains”, a piece featuring Cornish on piano and guest Mark Turner on tenor sax. Initially it’s another of the album’s gentler pieces, but subsequently gathers momentum as Binney and Turner combine above a punchy odd meter groove. Cornish later solos expansively as the piece enters its third phase. Ring then features strongly towards the close.
“Digit”, the penultimate track, also features Turner. It’s a short, but typically intense, Kane composition that includes a powerful contribution from Turner as Escreet returns to the piano stool.
The album concludes with “Floor Plans Outro”, the last of the solo bass pieces, which features Kane playing both arco and pizzicato.
“Floor Plans” represents an impressive statement from Logan Kane that demands that he should be regarded as one of America’s premier bass players and composers. The music is bold, visceral and intense and demands the listener’s attention. His compositions are complex and densely packed with rhythmic, melodic, harmonic and contrapuntal ideas.
This is music that must represent a considerable challenge to play but Kane has selected a team of players who are more than up to the job. Ring is hugely impressive throughout, a dynamic and technically gifted drummer who is also capable of considerable subtlety and sensitivity if required. Pianists Escreet and Cornish also impress with their contributions, as do Turner and Hatamiya on the pieces on which they appear.
David Binney plays a vital role as both musician and producer and is extremely impressive throughout. He’s a very substantial presence on this recording and fans of Binney’s own music will find much to enjoy here.
But ultimately the triumph is Kane’s. This is an album that will gather many critical plaudits and should win him many new fans. Some listeners may find it all a bit overwhelming but many more will thrill to the dynamism and sheer inventiveness of Kane’s music.
One suspects that any band Kane may put together to play this material live would definitely be worth seeing. For UK listeners wouldn’t it be great to see him at Cheltenham Jazz Festival next year?
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