Still, Bauder retains his roots in jazz, and that sensibility colors everything he does. He recently released Nightshades (Clean Feed), the second album by his excellent quintet Day in Pictures—a jazz quintet through and through featuring trumpeter Nate Wooley, pianist Kris Davis (who replaces Angelica Sanchez, from the group's debut), bassist Jason Ajemian, and drummer Tomas Fujiwara—and it arrives as one of his most accomplished efforts yet, a superb, elegantly swinging session built upon six sturdy, well-crafted original compositions. The record is dominated by the sort of classic, soulful hard-bop sound forged in the 50s, but within that durable model the individualism of each player comes through. Bauder introduces the handsome ballad "Starr Wykoff" with a lengthy tenor sax solo marked by harmonic ambiguity, dazzling rhythmic variation, breathily sensual tonality, and rich melodic generosity, leading into a tune that would've sounded at home in the repertoire of Coleman Hawkins. Both Bauder and Wooley expertly pour modern techniques and ideas into a classic model with astonishingly good, deeply satisfying results.
On the surface the opening piece called "Octavia Minor" flips the script a bit, summoning the spirit of vintage Ethiopian music, but once you get beyond the pentatonic harmonies and patient melody, the internal motion and improvisations are of a piece with the performances that follow. Below you can check out the wonderfully churning piece "August and Counting," which opens with a thrumming groove and tart contrapuntal blowing from Bauder and Wooley. As the piece unfolds, the hornmen never really drop out, trading phrases, dropping accents on one another's lines, and improvising in thrilling tandem, with Davis unspooling mahogany blankets of shimmering sound. I feel confident that Nightshades will end up as one of my favorite albums of 2014. That kind of quality and resonance is something that you can rely on Bauder to deliver.
Harold Mabern, A Few Miles From Memphis (Prestige)
Samba de Coco Raízes de Arcoverde, Godê Pavão (independent)
Billy Paul, 360 Degrees of Billy Paul (Philadelphia International/Legacy)
Sara Serpa and Ran Blake, Aurora (Clean Feed)
Mark Fosson, Digging in the Dust (Tompkins Square)