Review by Brad Walseth
The future is now on The David Finck Quartet's new release, "Future Day." Led by first-call NYC bassist Finck, the quartet also features well-known drummer Joe LaBarbera (Bill Evans, Lalo Schifrin, Woody Herman and more) along with fellow West Coaster - pianist Tom Rainer. Rounding out the core group is warmly melodic vibraphonist Joe Locke, whose playing has graced numerous recordings, including Wayne Escoffery's wonderful recent "Veneration." With special guests, trumpeter Jeremy Pelt and saxophonist Bob Sheppard, the quartet tears through a nice mixture of originals and eclectic covers, which are all presented in a mainstream manner that is exciting yet still comfortable and pleasing to the listener.
Ranier's "I Know" opens things up in a swinging way, and the combination of the LaBarbera's stylish drive, Finck's smooth and rich bass, Ranier's mature and cool piano and 'secret weapon' Locke's resonant yet unobtrusive vibes captures the ears immediately. Just try not tapping your foot and I guarantee that you will lose your mind. Finck's "New Valley" meanwhile mines a Vince Guaraldi vein with pleasing results, and gives Ranier a chance to stretch out a bit. Finck solos with an assured smoothness one rarely finds in a bassist and shows why people like Andre Previn, Tony Bennett and many of the top names in music trust him to take care of the low end. Locke again swings sweetly, and LaBarbera's fills show remarkable taste and just the right touch to push the music without ramming it into a wall.
"Nature Boy" in a Latin-flavored 5/4? Sure enough, and it works beautifully. Finck is well known for his Latin work, and he and LaBarbera make it seem like this was the way Eden Ahbez (Herman Yablakoff, Dvorcek or whoever) intended it. When Pelt and Sheppard kick in on trumpet and sax on Bevan Manson's "Four Flags" over the top of Finck's ferociously walking bass, you know these guys can do no wrong. You just wish this 2:30 of solid straight ahead jazz would go on longer.
Switching gears, "Ballad for a Future Day" (composed by Roger Davidson) offers a delicious intro by Locke, some dark-toned and reflective piano, glorious bowed bass and LaBarbera's sizzling brushwork. Meanwhile, Wayne Shorter's "Black Eyes" is given the Finck Quartet treatment with happy results, and Pelt's muted trumpet and Sheppard's soprano sax enliven another Finck original, the uptempo "Look at You."
But the fun is only beginning as covers of the standard "For All We Know" and Cedar Walton's "Firm Roots," along with tasty originals written by LaBarbera ("If Not for You"), Lockes mysterious "Appointment in Orvieto," and Ranier ("Transperancy") round out the second half. The Walton track is especially noted for the energetic playing the group engenders and ends the album on a high note. Not really cutting edge, but more subtly interesting than most edgier releases out there, "Future Day" is a record designed for listening and enjoying, and I am pleased to learn that are still jazz artists out there making such music.