David Finck, BASSic Instinct Review
by Nolan DeBuke
Bassists and composer David Finck has spent the past forty-plus years perfecting his craft. His versatility as a performer has allowed him to perform with Dizzy Gillespie, André Previn, Rosemary Clooney, George Michael, Phil Woods, Kenny Rankin, Hank Jones, Paquito D’Rivera, Ivan Lins, and Sheila Jordan, to name just a few of the stars on his resume. Finck has also built his ability to explore the solo potential of the double bass, an instrument that is usually the unobtrusive heartbeat of the rhythm section. Finck is now releasing his fourth album as a leader called BASSic Instinct via Burton Avenue Music. The album has thirteen selections that are a collection of jazz tunes arranged by Finck, including Finck’s original compositions. Finck is joined by a bevy of talented collaborators including Andy Snitzer, Quinn Johnson, Bob Mann, Mike Davis, Meg Ruby and others. Vocal features include Melissa Errico, Kelly Mittleman, Téka Penteriche and Trist Curless.
The well-known standard “Dearly Beloved” features a Latin-styled three-horn arrangement with an ensemble grooving through an ingenious arrangement by Finck. The horn writing is lyrical and filled with tasteful embellishments of the melody, and Finck’s driving bass tone anchors the ensemble in its woody fullness. His solo is apparent in style, his agility on the bass is impressive, and his upper register playing has perfect intonation and flows impeccably in the Latin pocket. Andy Snitzer adds a modern hue to his musical solo on the saxophone. Quinn Johnson also turns in an impressive solo. Finck’s writing in the shout chorus is rich in textures and impressive with orchestral control. Upon switching to a swing feel, Mike Davis takes us on an enjoyable ride before Finck’s arrangement restates the melody in a swing style.
Finck’s original “Joy” is an outstanding composition and shows a different side of his writing as the bass takes the lead with the ensemble giving respect and space. With a form that has many twists and turns, which makes this track come alive, Finck’s delivery of the melody and solo sounds of excellent tone and pitch. The horn writing is colorful, supports the melody, and is marked by Finck’s pastel horn orchestrations.
BASSic Instinct captures the talent of a jazz musician that deeply understands arranging, composing, soloing, and supporting an ensemble from the bottom up. He presents a program of songs that are delivered with a refined sense of style and tasteful playing throughout the thirteen selections. Finck is undoubtedly deserving of wider recognition, and his pursuing excellence in exploring the solo potential of the double bass makes him a gem of a find for jazz fans.