Bassist Eli Davidovici, now in Montreal but still returning to Vancouver as he did this year for the jazzfest, released his album Shapes on March 1, 2023.
It's a flowing, abstract album without many firm beginnings or ends in each piece: an accurate reflection of many groups you’d have heard Eli play live with during his Vancouver years. As a bassist he is flexible like Ben Street and Larry Grenadier, as a composer his work can feel as inspired by indie rock soundscapes as jazz.
The collectively-oriented style and choice of instrumentation drops Shapes into the continuum of Bill Frisell’s Blues Dream, Brian Blade’s Fellowship Band, and Rudy Royston’s Flatbed Buggy.
The vast and yet slowly unfolding “Follow” is a great statement of Eli's concept:
The patient, waltzing “Stir” is another of my favourites. Eli only lays down a strong repeating bassline and allots himself a spotlight for bass soloing on the closing tune, “Bingo Flamingo”, which also showcases the saxophone and clarinet tandem within this ensemble.
On the other hand, the clear-toned bass with saxophone in unison that starts “Drop” doesn’t foreshadow much about how that performance will eventually build. "Billow" is one of the freer tracks, situated some distance away from the more accessible "Morning" and its sax and guitar solos. From the guitar, Roman Munoz is a dynamic force who sets the pace of each arrangement with his tone.
Dan Reynolds' role on the piano has the same unselfishness that I associate with Eli's bass playing in general. And of course, the interaction of drums and bass is as consistently locked-in and pleasing as anything Mili and Eli have done for a decade. While Eli has been a reliable, swinging bassist and frequent side musician for some time, his sound as a composer and bandleader is all about space and surprise.
Shapes: Morning; Stir; Billow; Follow; Drop; Bingo Flamingo. (49:29)
Personnel: Mike Bjella on tenor saxophone; Ted Crosby on clarinet & bass clarinet; Dan Reynolds on piano; Roman Munoz on guitar; Eli Davidovici on bass; Mili Hong on drums.