Friday, March 21, 2008

Veasley's Solid Game

It's somewhat ironic that Gerald Veasley, one of the most inventive bassists of the current generation of contemporary jazz players, would base the title concept of his latest disc, Your Move, on the kinetic game of chess.

While other artists have jumped from label to label over the years as jazz divisions of major labels and indie record companies alike have folded, the versatile Philly-based artist is celebrating an extraordinarily steady feat with his first studio disc since 2003's Velvet -- a decade-and-a-half with the same label, Heads Up.

Veasley, who launched his solo career in the early-'90s after high profile stints with Grover Washington, Jr. and The Zawinal Syndicate, makes a strong strategic move collaborating on a handful of cuts with labelmate and guitarist Chuck Loeb, another East Coast stalwart who can play it smooth and urban one minute, edgy and fusion-driven the next and throw a little straight ahead into the mix.

Veasley also pays homage to his childhood funk leanings on a bold and brassy, mega-infectious cover of Sly Stone's "Thank You (Falettinme Be Mice Elf Agin)" The bassist's previous release was 2005's At The Jazz Base!, a response to the clamor among his fans for a live recording that featured top catalog tunes performed at the club in November 2004. Veasley is the founder of The Jazz Base, which is located at the Sheraton Reading Hotel in Reading, Pennsylvania and is a major venue at the annual Berks Jazz Fest.

By Jonathan Widran

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