Youth will be served, the old saying goes, and 23- year-old Berklee graduate Evan Marien’s selfproduced solo debut Between Worlds serves notice that there’s a new bass monster in town. Armed with ridiculously fluid fingerstyle chops and a strong sense of groove, Marien applies a smooth, round, bridgepickup tone that owes plenty to Jaco Pastorius and Matt Garrison, but the dark, punchy goodness evokes Gary Willis and Jimmy Johnson just as strongly (especially on the fusion workouts “Fragment” and “Crossing Streets”). As the title suggests, his muso tendencies are mixed with a healthy dose of techno experimentation. “Lao’s Tao” and “Primal Virtue” are loaded with textured effects, far-eastern motifs, and meaty ring-modulator tones, and “Skitzo” features several keyboard-and-drum loops and a crazed, doubled bass melody, along with the requisite soaring improv. The solo piece “Eternals and Apathetics” is an unpredictable virtuoso delight. Compositionally and stylistically, the album is scattershot and fun, which seems to be the point. What Marien does next with this abundance of talent should be just as fun to observe.
Janek Gwizdala, The Space in Between [janekgwizdala.com]
The word virtuoso gets thrown around a lot, but Janek Gwizdala is one of those guys who really earns it.