Bill Clark Sextet: Out of Line

A group of folks we would now call Vancouver all-stars from the late 80s and early 90s

Bill Clark Sextet: Out of Line
Cover art: David Bircham

Out of Line, made in 1991 and 1992, is a sextet album led by trumpeter Bill Clark with a group of folks we would now call Vancouver all-stars from the late 80s and early 90s. Bill, Dennis Esson, Ken Lister, and Stan Taylor have all been present in the community ever since; Patric Caird became a film and TV composer of note, and then there is of course the late Ross Taggart, whose furious piano playing is essential even as the record doesn't feature him as a tunesmith.

This recording is not a 100%-pristine audio document: track one has some glitches off the jump, and the final track loses some volume out of the left channel for a while. That said, the possibilities come alive as the playing and conviviality more than make up for it.

Clark, Esson, and Caird contribute multiple tunes to the all-original set – ranging from intense to grooving post-bop – with Ken also adding a more meditative composition. The Miles Davis Second Quintet is a big reference point for me, especially with all the shifting time-feels from the drums. The small-group sound of Kenny Wheeler, with whom Stan played, is another influence.

While Taggart is the soloist who wows me the most through the album, the three horns each make their mark. On Clark's funky tune "Powder is in the Building", he summons the dynamic ensemble from a quiet nothing then hands it off to Taggart and then Caird, who deconstructs it. Caird has a highlight solo on "There Isn't One" as his parts define two other distinctive tracks: the minor dirge of "Across the Age" and the complex "There's More to Me Than Meets the Eye" featuring his repeating low saxophone riff. Esson appears more down the tracklist, including on the part tango, part "Poinciana" groove of "Macondo".

Out of Line is a fun, inspiring session and a piece of Vancouver jazz history: a chance for me to travel back three decades and hear some players whom I've known best as teachers, back when they were younger than I am today.

Out of Line cover

Listen now

Out of Line: Out of Line; But No But Yeah; Across the Age; There Isn't One; There's More to Me than Meets the Eye; Powder is in the Building Macondo; Satyagraha; Steamin' Stan. (48:48)

Personnel: Bill Clark on trumpet; Patric Caird on tenor saxophone; Dennis Esson on trombone; Ross Taggart on piano; Ken Lister on bass; Stan Taylor on drums.