Michael Feinberg | Blues Variant Review
by Darnell Jackson
Michael Feinberg is a jazz bassist, composer, and band leader that is releasing his Criss Cross record label debut with Blues Variant. Feinberg builds an ensemble of tenor saxophonist and flutist Noah Preminger, pianist Leo Genovese, and drummer Nasheet Waits. Saxophonist David Liebman, a Miles Davis alum, guests on multiple songs too. Feinberg does not solo on the album; he furthers the idea, “so I don’t care about the solos or being on top of the mix to indicate, ‘this is a bass player’s record.’ I play a ton of notes. I’m playing the whole time. Can’t miss it.”
“Saqqara” has a Coltrane vibe deep within its musical DNA. The ensemble performs a powerful building performance of the song. Liebman provides the flute parts during the melody. For the solos, Genovese is first; his playing is heavily influenced by McCoy Tyner’s playing, which builds energy and textures. Feinberg’s groove is solid, and his bass has a big ‘woody’ sound and growls with clarity. Finally, the ensemble switches to a swing feel for Preminger’s solo. One will instantly feel the groove that Feinberg and Waits build together.
“Gather Power” features Liebman on soprano saxophone and is another fine selection with Elvin Jones/John Coltrane elements. Liebman takes the first solo, going from free time to a relaxed swing feel that transitions into Genovese’s piano solo. Genovese’s soloing is beautiful as he keeps the comfortable swing clear and performs fluidly. Liebman returns for another solo spot that also serves as a transition to a stunning solo from Waits.
Blues Variant has a wide range of modern jazz with an evident and fresh approach to the Elvin Jones/John Coltrane era sound. In addition, Feinberg brings multiple compositions to the project that show his talents as a composer and performer. Feinberg’s Blues Variant is worth your listening time and will reward you with many musical moments and a constant and beautiful feel from bassists Feinberg.
Release Date: January 6, 2023
Label: Criss Cross