Rising Son [Blue Note]
From Brooklyn to the Bowery, Kansas City-born doubler Solomon Dorsey has been a rising groove force in Gotham. Now he shares his plucking, production, and pen perspective on two highly anticipated discs. As the touring bassist with hip-hop/jazz vocal sensation José James, Dorsey steps into the recording role his main bass influence, Pino Palladino, filled on James’ acclaimed 2013 CD, No Beginning No End. This time out, the always-reaching baritone crooner adds a rock edge to his signature contemporary R&B blend of electronica and organic rhythm section. “Angel” launches the 12-track disc with guitarist Brad Allen William’s Hendrix haze and Dorsey’s deep, staccato throb buffeting James’ Bill Withers-meets-Gil-Scott Heron vocal. “Anywhere You Go” (with its driving guitar riff and complementary accented bass line) and the sub-bass-powered “Without U” mine the dark, industrial intensity of Radiohead and Nine Inch Nails. In contrast, Solomon mans synth bass for the trippy, acoustic guitar-induced title-track (one of three songs he co-wrote), and his bed of acoustic and synth bass is the backbone of vocalist Becca Stevens’ sparse, haunting “Dragon.” The instrumental interlude “Salaam” serves as Solomon’s sonic shout-out, as he percolates with Pino-style broken bass lines and ear-bending fills.
Japanese trumpeter/arranger Takuya Kuroda, another key member of the James team, takes the “lead vocal” role on his dramatic debut (produced by James, who guests on a faithful cover of Roy Ayers’ ’70s classic “Everybody Loves the Sunshine”). Key to the fervent flow here is the steady rhythm section of Dorsey, Marcus Miller keyboardist Kris Bowers (also a mainstay on James’ CD), and kinetic drummer Nate Smith. Joined by guitarist Lionel Loueke, they man the integrated groove of “Afro Blue” before stretching with conversational ideas behind the soloists. Similarly, the hiphop bounce of “Piri Piri” and Afro-samba groove of “Mala” find Solomon and Smith finishing each other’s phrases in support mode, with Solomon stepping forward to engage solos by trombonist Corey King, Kuroda, and Bowers. With so many tools on display, the stage is nicely set for Dorsey’s planned solo endeavor.