Toronto bassist Dave Young has a rich history as a partner to pianists, most notably Oscar Peterson, Kenny Barron and Oliver Jones. He also has a distinguished career as a bandleader, putting together groups devoted to specific modern jazz repertoire, including the compositions of Horace Silver and Charles Mingus. Ides of March continues that neo-classical approach, with half the repertoire composed by Herbie Hancock. There’s also a certain special resonance in the instrumental makeup. The quartet includes trumpeter Kevin Turcotte, guitarist Reg Schwager and drummer Terry Clarke, each a first-call musician with a refined execution. The band’s conception resembles trumpeter Art Farmer’s 1960s quartet with guitarist Jim Hall, an island of artful elegance in a clamorous decade.
Turcotte’s role as the offscreen trumpet voice in Born to Be Blue, the dramatized biography of Chet Baker, testifies to his warmth and economy, while Schwager possesses liquid lyricism and harmonic depth. Together they emphasize the melodic grace of Hancock’s Speak like a Child or Gershwin’s My Man’s Gone Now (a favourite of Miles Davis and Bill Evans, here distinguished by a limpidly melancholic introduction by Young and Schwager), but they also find nuance in more aggressive material, like Lee Morgan’s Speedball or Hancock’s One Finger Snap, both consistently motivated by Clarke’s crisp articulation and subtle inflections.
It’s a thoughtful, often reflective program, further enhanced by a developed account of Niels Lan Doky’s angular, slightly dissonant The Target and Young’s own, slightly pensive, title track.